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Experts ‘unashamedly positive’ over 2016 growth as Chinese car giants move to West Midlands

Experts ‘unashamedly positive’ over 2016 growth as Chinese car giants move to West Midlands

🕔04.Jan 2016

Chinese car manufacturer Changan has bought almost four times as much office space for its new headquarters at the Birmingham Business Park Solihull than had been expected.

The company, one of the top four automotive groups in China, has acquired an entire 80,000 sq ft phase of Parkside offices in what is being seen as a big vote of confidence in the West Midlands as a global business centre.

Initially, Changan intended to take only 24,000 sq ft of office space.

The site will form the worldwide HQ of its Powertrain and Research and Development divisions, housing 200 staff, and consolidating existing offices in Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire.

Confirmation of the Changan deal came as the director of KPMG’s corporate finance team in the Midlands said his predictions for the market in 2016 were “unashamedly positive”.

Simon Heath told Insider Media he expects activity to rise over the next 12 months following the firm’s “best year” since 2007. 

We are already experiencing a very strong pipeline and an increasing appetite from overseas buyers and strategic new market entrants to invest in the UK, thanks to a strengthening economy, a low regulation market and sterling being viewed as a stable currency.

There’s a real confidence within the Midlands business community and at the moment there doesn’t seem to be any significant threat to the deals market.

Changan chose Birmingham Business Park having considered several different locations across the West Midlands, including Birmingham city centre and Coventry.

The company says it has big plans for the UK market.

Dr Xiaoyu Zhang, general manager of Changan UK, said:

We are committed to turning Changan into the world’s leading automotive company and establishing advanced technology R&D facilities across the globe is fundamental to our plans for growth. Our new site at Birmingham Business Park in the UK will become a world-class powertrain research centre.

This new location will strengthen our commitment to the UK market by promoting the growth and sustainability of Changan UK, developing links with local universities and creating new jobs for the region.

As well as staff relocating to the area, the move will create over 100 jobs, including many for skilled workers. With JLR announcing a further expansion at i54, highlighting the buoyancy of the region’s automotive industry, it is clear that required skill sets for these new positions will be well supported by the area’s highly talented local workforce.

The proximity of Birmingham Airport with direct flights to China, and the prospect of HS2 high speed train services stopping at Birmingham International railway station are believed to be key factors in Changan’s decision to move to Solihull.

Having purchased a whole single phase at Parkside, Changan now owns buildings 3500, 3600, 3700, 3800 and 3900. The company has been granted planning permission to demolish and rebuild 3600 Parkside to create a new, state-of-the-art research and development centre, or “test cell”.

The remaining units of 3800 and 3900 Parkside will provide Changan with readily available space for future expansions of their work force at the site.

The properties were sold by KWB who acted on behalf of their client, Moorfield Corporate Recovery. Senior Insolvency Administrator, Martyn Ewing said:

We are delighted to welcome such a significant name to the Parkside site. The nature of the operations that Changan is relocating has meant that their requirements were fairly specific; they needed a site that could be malleable, that could be adjusted to their current, unique needs and facilitate future changes in those requirements.  KWB saw that Birmingham Business Park could provide the answer, so now, after a long time searching, Changan has found its home in the West Midlands.

Changan UK set up its research and development centre, CAUK, in Nottingham Science Park, five years ago. The centre formed part of the company’s powertrain division and was one of four overseas research centres, with the remaining three located in Italy, Japan and the USA.

Along with another research and development centre based at Fen End, Warwickshire, these UK operations will now be housed in the newly bought offices at Parkside.

KWB partner, Mark Robinson said:

This is fantastic news for Birmingham Business Park and the automotive industry in the West Midlands.  After over two years of discussions with various stakeholders, we are delighted that Changan chose to consolidate its UK operations at Parkside offices at Birmingham Business Park, Solihull.  This represents the start of a significant amount of investment from Changan on their future expansion, within Solihull.

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