Friday, 26 March 2010

Assembly Studios week at MIPIM

So as we boarded the train for the eleventh successive year to head to Cannes I started to feel the familiar quickening – a mix of trepidation, anticipation and that feeling you get when you about to take on something and you are not really sure how it’s going to go down.

MIPIM this year for me was about communication, consolidating our current client relationships and seeing how the land lies for the next 12 months in the construction industry and finding a few new people to work with.

We have a plan for growing a global footprint and aligning ourselves with emerging nations and economies and MIPIM is a great place to start.

Indeed we found some overseas movement in the market which should come on line in Q2 and 3 of this year if we play our cards right which is good news.

Arriving into Cannes on Monday evening, it was noticeably colder than recent years and it became apparent that Reed MIDEM’s very late issue of attendance figures was to hide the lack of numbers travelling to the conference.

This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I went from function to function surrounded by decision makers and owners of companies. People had time for each other and business was getting done. Business development people we notable in their absence as companies cut their marketing activities and expenditure to the bare bones.

The doom and gloom of 2009 however was seemingly replaced with positive news and people getting on with it – everyone has had it tough and it isn’t immediately going to improve but the show must go on.

The repositioned London Stand was great – the terrace overlooked the beach and I hope that this becomes their regular slot – Pipers did a cracking job and I suspect this location will be more successful than the previous incarnations – it was very well used and always busy unlike the feast and famine of the nicely designed Manchester stand.

The bunker was undersold and from what I could see, was mainly populated by random Eastern European countries who seem to be recovering more swiftly than most in any rate.

The Russians turned up but on the whole the middle-east did not - allegedly several of the former big players in Dubai are in jail which makes international travel tricky at best…

RMJMs cocktail party in the hills was by far the smartest and highest profile of the parties I managed to attend – Peter Morrison and their new signature architect, Will Alsop, holding court around a splendid and well needed outdoor fireplace – it was 8 degrees on Tuesday night – I’ll have to get my coat next year…

Late drinks on Tuesday at Le Crillon – (Cannes answer to Spitalfields Golden Heart) saw a high profile architectural crew take on further booze – Glenn Howells, Simon Alford, Paul Finch, Roger Zogolovich and Urban Splash’s Nick Johnson amongst a star studded cast…

Wednesday for me was a barrage of meetings – some catching up and some new introductions and also had the pleasure of meeting legendary dragon, James Caan at the BDO cocktail party – disappointingly I froze and didn’t manage to a) pitch for more investment or b) tell my snowman joke before he drifted off into a raft of finance people…

Wednesday afternoon turned from the sublime to the ridiculously busy – another of our clients, West London’s cocktails party at the Grand was so rammed that turning up late, I had to hang outside the entrance with organiser, Ross Sturley of Chart Lane. This turned out to be a good thing as he kindly introduced me to all of the West London Massive as they intermittently spilled out of the crowded venue into the garden.

Wednesday evening, the resplendent Paul Finch compered the Architecture Review’s MIPIM future projects dinner with his usual Eurovision song contest aplomb. I had the pleasure of sitting next to the wife of the Mayor of Muscat at dinner – my business partner Richard Conner however, got an open invite to Oman – any time – clearly i’m losing my touch.

Thursday afternoon, our rebranded client BCMP were showing off their new identity at a cocktail function just off the Croissette with Rookes Rider solicitors – They’ve had a great response to their new name and brand, which is great for them and great news for us!

The picks of the week ranged from the surreal - excellent Twitter activity sparked by @Twipim – (an anonymous group of brits who entertained and informed throughout the week) to the oversubscribed - Event Organisers Ear to the Ground’s Hang the DJ party which was by far the hottest ticket in town –

Tom Bloxham, sporting a “Tom Ford suit special”, (and proof that some men still do wear plaid), opened his set with a cracking track – Rock the Kasbah – class. Others thought that soirees into the wine bar eighties, hokey house music and “The Who” (excellent but slightly out of place) fared slightly worse but in fairness it all went down well and it was very well attended by the great and the good of the property industry.,.

I was also lucky enough to be invited as one of several DJs and went for a rock set (no pun intended) including the Kings of Leon, followed by I am the resurrection by the Stone Roses, to a large fellow Mancunian audience. Never a risk and always a crowd pleaser…

Boarding the return train and looking forward to having 6 straight hours in a comfy seat without having to talk to anyone we reflected it had been a very positive trip – between the two of us we had had over 150 meaningful conversations with decision makers and over 100 things to follow up. We’re pitching on a job in St Petersburgh and have a couple more briefs to come – in fact collectively better as a performance than the year we sent 6 people… go figure.

Matt Fairman, CEO and MIPIM Veteran

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