Last week, Rettie went to the Marché International des Professionnels d'Immobilier, otherwise known as MIPIM, as part of the Scottish Delegation. Held in Cannes, it is the annual international property conference/ jamboree/ jolly, with one’s overall view of the event dependent on levels of enthusiasm/ knowledge/ cynicism.
Rettie is a largely Scottish-based company and most of our clients are UK based, so it is not always an annual requirement to attend MIPIM. However, our involvement in the last few years into Build to Rent (BTR) sector—see our latest BTR briefing here—and our increasing number of international clients meant that this year we took the plunge into the French Riviera, with myself and our Director of Development Services, Matthew Benson, heading out.
Our decision to participate was helped by a Team Scotland approach, spearheaded by the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise, intended to create a public/private sector collaboration to ‘sell’ Scottish development opportunities and the investment potential of Scotland. With dozens of countries and cities involved, it is easy to get lost in the ‘noise’, but the Scottish Pavilion was well-positioned just inside one of the main entrances this year and had a clear joint marketing message.
MIPIM is a major European event, and not just in a property context. Picture 30,000 people sauntering up and down Edinburgh’s Princes Street in the summer, with restaurants and bars on the shops side and yachts and cruise ships where the Gardens are, and you will get a basic idea.
So apart from the getting a bit of sun in March and spending a lot of money, what is the point of MIPIM? MIPIM allows the major players in the property development sector to get together to exchange information, knowledge, and facilitate deals. It does work; deals such as Buchanan Wharf in Glasgow, which will bring thousands of jobs and new homes to a formerly derelict site near the River Clyde, were discussed and refined at last year’s MIPIM. An event like MIPIM focuses minds and allows people to get together in a relaxed environment when even arranging such meetings may take months of preparation back home.
It is not to everyone’s taste. Seeing property people swaggering (in ways which only property people seem to do) on the promenade in their shades and blue suits on the way to another cocktail reception on a boat that looks like something from The Wolf of Wall Street gives some ammunition to those who see MIPIM as an expensive and hideous beast.
But you need to see the upside as well as the down. MIPIM allowed Team Scotland to promote some of the country’s key development sites that all need further investment to thrive. Dundee Waterfront, Aberdeen Harbour, Glasgow’s Avenues, and Western Harbour in Edinburgh all featured prominently in the talks from the Team Scotland pavilion. Rettie has been heavily involved in the last of these sites, working alongside partners such as Forth Ports and City of Edinburgh Council. Western Harbour offers potential development for over 2,000 new homes in North Edinburgh, on Forth Port’s Edinburgh land holdings. The first phase of 230 BTR homes was delivered with 36 applications for every home available. The next phases comprise of 1,600 BTR homes and over 400 additional homes, with opportunities for institutional investment available. You can see more details about it all here.
We need to get these types of opportunities in front of an international audience of developers and investors and MIPIM offers us that opportunity.
MIPIM does provide great experiences for attendees, whether it be the free Guinness flowing from the Belfast pavilion or a full-scale opera laid on by Moscow, there is plenty to see and enjoy.
So, I did enjoy hustle and bustle of this year’s MIPIM and the occasional ice cream, although I did forego the cocktail parties and I never had time to get on the speedos and suntan lotion (probably just as well).
It was a few days out of the office at a busy time of year and plenty of early starts and late finishes, and I still feel my ears ringing such was the unrelenting noise of chatter. Was it worth it? If it helps to get a deal over the line, definitely. That will help us decide whether to go again next year.