Quality counts in Solihull’s inward investment surge

Malcolm Jones, Director of Office Agency at KWB.

A trio of inward investment deals along the Solihull-M42 corridor has confirmed that the region is set for an employment boom, according to a close observer of the area’s business scene.

Malcolm Jones, head of office agency for Birmingham-based independents KWB, says the welcome news is revealed via a close inspection of the Q1 data for property transactions.

“A glance at the headline figures shows just over 20,000 sq ft from six lettings, which wouldn’t immediately grab most people’s attention, but you need to consider the quality of the companies involved, and also the niches in which they operate, to get the true perspective,” he says.

“The arrival of VGC, Dodd Group and Inspired Selections during Q1 is important for the reasons why they chose to take space here – and why they made that decision now.”

VGC, which has taken space at J4 of the M42, specialises in training personnel, and recruiting civil engineers and sub-contractors for the UK’s largest infrastructure projects and is a long-term partner of HS2 Ltd, Highways England and Network Rail.

The Dodd Group, which took just over 2,500 sq ft on Quartz Point at J6 of the M42, has been working with Solihull MBC for almost a decade. The business has been trading since just after the Second World War, has more than 800 staff at 19 offices across the UK and annual turnover of more than £150m.

Inspired Selections, which took 4,550 sq ft at Fairway House, specialises in recruiting skilled staff for opticians and is the UK’s largest in its niche.

“VGC already has an office in Birmingham, and Dodd’s have one in Smethwick, but they wanted to establish a presence along the Solihull-M42 corridor because they realise its economy is set for a sustained period of growth,” suggests KWB’s Jones.

“If you then factor in the construction of 3,000 new homes at the Arden Cross site, you can see why an agency recruiting trained staff for opticians would want to be here, and it’s interesting that Inspired chose to relocate their headquarters from Birmingham to Solihull, rather than just open a satellite office.

“The M42 corridor has been a pillar of the region’s economy for years, and the desire of companies and individuals to be in the Solihull area is equally well-established, but as we look ahead towards 2030, I believe we’ll see the steady and consistent creation of jobs at a level which hasn’t previously happened here.”

Jones’s optimism is further underpinned by two new requirements in the area’s property markets, both from companies operating in the public infrastructure sector whose work relates to HS2 tenders, and both looking for between 4,000 sq ft and 6,000 sq ft.

“When HS2 Ltd came to Birmingham, several companies working in that sector took space in the city centre, so it’ll be interesting to see if the second wave comes to Solihull and along the M42,” he says.