Liverpool – “Here comes the sun!”

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Liverpool – “Here comes the sun!”

On Tuesday it was a pleasure to meet up with an old colleague Paul Unger from leading NW property news website ‘Place North West’ who was chairing a packed-out business breakfast titled ‘Liverpool – Making It Happen’ at Liverpool ONE, the UK’s largest open air shopping centre.

To set the local scene and as an introductory event to the BCSC programme, Paul pulled together a panel of Liverpool’s leaders to discuss how development and tourism (particularly since the arrival of the £1bn Liverpool ONE) has led to increased prosperity and growth for the City.

It is undeniable that Grosvenor’s 42-acre Liverpool ONE has been a resounding success story and created a ‘retail city’ within a City.  It has done the remarkable job of linking the popular tourist destination of the Albert Dock to the city centre, driving footfall in the process as local shoppers, domestic tourists and international visitors all opt to explore wider pedestrianised areas taking advantage of improved food offerings and high street brands.

Chris Bliss Estates Director for Liverpool ONE addressed the audience on how the centre sets new standards for on-site recycling to customer service training that Liverpool City Council aims to roll out across the city centre, Liverpool ONE takes pride in offering the highest levels of cleanliness andcustomer satisfaction.

What is clearly apparent from walking round the scheme is the holistic approach to ‘destination’ instead of ‘shopping centre’ marketing.  The whole Liverpool ONE experience has been carefully planned and executed offering customers assistance with everything from complimentary umbrella’s to ‘find-your-car’ services in the car park – even outdoor entertainment is provided with members of the public invited to ‘tickle the ivories’ on one of five piano’s strategically located around the site.

Bob Prattey, Chief Executive of the Arena & Convention Centre, Liverpool (ACC) where BCSC was held explained that the City had never really been a major player in the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions) industry and so it was crucial to develop a world-class venue for international events.

With venue bookings already taking up most of the 2013 calendar, a strategic game plan is now in place to further the success of the ACC.  There are development plans to construct another exhibition hall joining the Echo Arena and BT Convention Centre creating the three ‘new’ Graces that will sit upstream from the original three at Pier Head.

Bob explained that the needed to crack the UK market before entering into Europe then onto the international platform and targeted conference sectors were the ‘Ologies’ circuit – a wealth of healthcare events that have an international audience.

Stephen Carr, Head of Business Development at Peel Ports Mersey talked through the opportunities Peel Ports foresee at the new £300m deep water terminal ‘Liverpool 2’ planned for the Mersey shoreline.  He explained that current dock facilities restrict the super tankers from entering the UK via the Mersey so a new port development was required to open up the route.  Questions were asked about the new port supporting car exports by sea from both Range Rover in South Liverpool and Vauxhall in Elesmere Port and Stephen confirmed that roll-on roll-off infrastructure to enable car shipping was in the next phase of the new port plans.

Ged Fitzgerald Liverpool’s Council Chief Executive supported the guest presenters in all their efforts praising the commitment from industry to turn Liverpool once again into a world-class city.

Overall the atmosphere in the breakfast meeting was one of positivity and anticipation for the next success story.  With no negative questions at the Q&A session that followed, it was clear to see that all stakeholders and visitors attending agreed that the future of Merseyside is looking bright.

My walk from Liverpool ONE back to the Echo Arena was less bright as a strong wet gale blew up, but as rays of sun broke the horizon, I thought to myself, like Liverpool’s return to greatness,  ‘here it comes…’.

Euan Blake, Account Director

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