Birmingham still trails Manchester as a location to do business, according to an influential international survey – although the city has made strides in tackling pollution and transport.
The latest Cushman & Wakefield European Cities Monitor (ECM) shows the city remains 18th in the list of the continent’s leading business cities.
Manchester fell from 12th to 16th in the list, based on the views of more than 500 senior executives from Europe’s largest companies, while London remained first by a long distance with locations such as Leeds, Edinburgh and Glasgow lagging behind.
But the city dropped down the list in terms of several key indicators, including easy access to markets and qualified staff.
Researchers said the city fell down the list in terms of how well known it is as a business location, with only 26 per cent stating that they know the city very or fairly well, down from 28 per cent last year, after falling behind the likes of Istanbul, Stockholm and Copenhagen. Manchester fell from 33 per cent to 30 per cent while London remained top at 81 per cent.
But it wasn’t all bad news for Birmingham, with the city improving its ranking in terms of the cost of staff, quality of telecommunications and external transport links.
Scott Rutherford, head of the Birmingham office of Cushman & Wakefield, said that it was significant that people’s perception of the city with regard to transport links had improved so dramatically.
“Transport is everything – it reflects a location, and it is one of the key criteria for it,” he said. “If you are going to be good at anything, then make it transport links.”
He added that the perception that Birmingham had good transport links would have been boosted by Chiltern Railways’ new fast service to London Marylebone, and by the introduction of the new London Midland class 172 trains.
Future improvements, such as the New Street station refurbishment and the extended runway at Birmingham Airport, would further strengthen the region’s transport credentials, he said.
“Also, Birmingham has maintained its overall position in the survey, against a difficult economic backdrop.
“Recent positive news about the manufacturing sector, including the new Jaguar Land Rover engine plant at i54, will hopefully lead to an even better result in 2012.”
The ECM survey provides an overview of the perceptions that corporate occupiers have about the various cities of Europe.
Each year researchers ask companies about their future expansion plans across Europe.
They found only one respondent planned to locate in Birmingham in the next five years, compared to five in 2010. There were two planning locations in Manchester, down from four in 2010, and 27 wanted to set up a London base, compared to 26 last year.
Birmingham was named among the best cities in terms of value for money of office space – in eighth position, down from fifth last year, but still the highest-ranked city in the UK. It was also ranked fourth in terms of availability of office space – the best-ranked in the UK alongside Leeds.
However, the city dropped out of the top 10 best cities in terms of easy access to markets, to 12th, after seeing Moscow, Munich and Hamburg jump in front. However, Manchester is only 16th in this list, down from 12th last year.
And fell from 16th in 2010 to equal 20th this year for availability of qualified staff, slipping behind Leeds, Warsaw, Bratislava and Geneva. Manchester is 11th on this list and London occupies the top spot.
In terms of the cost of staff, the city was ranked 13th, up from 14th last year, overtaking Manchester which slipped to 16th. In the UK, Leeds and Glasgow were ranked higher at eighth and 10th respectively.
But the city has climbed the list in terms of quality of telecommunications, from 15th last year to 13th – overtaking the likes of Dusseldorf and Geneva. By comparison, Manchester is 12th and Leeds is 17th, while London, again, occupies the top position.
And in terms of external transport links the city climbed to sixth, compared to 10th last year, overtaking Manchester, with London first in the list.
Meanwhile, it ranked 28th in “the best quality of life for employees” behind London at 10th, Edinburgh at 11th and Manchester at 22nd but rose to 22nd, from 27th last year, in terms of freedom from pollution.
Neil Rami, chief executive of Marketing Birmingham, said: “Building on today’s poll, another report published by Cushman & Wakefield last week put Birmingham at 16th in the world’s top 25 university cities in terms of the range and quality of institutions – with the second highest score of any UK city behind Edinburgh.
“The city was also 26th in terms of growth in investment among global cities – up by nearly 60 per cent - the second highest growth rate of any UK city.”