UKPF managing director Matthew Battle offers his personal observations and comments after attending UKREiiF in Leeds last week.

The contrast could not have been greater.

Having driven from the architectural delights of the city of Cambridge into the modern and vibrant urban landscape of Leeds, I began to have doubts that UKREiiF had chosen the right location.

However, after 48 hours at the event, where I was working with Berkshire LEP, I had changed my mind and was convinced that UKREiiF has the potential of filling the space in the property calendar which MIPIM UK tried and failed to fill.

I was not alone in my observations judging by the 7,000 delegates who attended and represented the built environment from across the private and public sectors.

This year was  a 40 per cent uplift on numbers from 2022 apparently. This bodes well for the future growth of the event into a regular fixture in the property diary.

All flavours of the industry were represented and it was this smorgasbord of people which ensured that the value of serendipity was at large, especially as I have not attended MIPIM in France for the past few years and had missed seeing familiar faces so UKREiiF provided an excellent and vibrant opportunity to see old and new friends and contacts.

In no particular order, here are my observations as an informed delegate:

  • The public sector was there in force. Obviously, a huge amount of work had gone into getting buy in from local government who could justify a visit to Leeds more easily than a visit to Cannes which nonetheless attracts 20,000+ delegates.
  • This was an event designed for consumption in the UK and attended by middle and senior company representatives from the UK. The South of France will always appeal to a more cosmopolitan crowd and Leeds works for the same reason – it is not located in London or Paris.
  • The location grew on me as the week progressed. However, if the event does continue to grow again by 40 per cent, it will become cramped and it could do with tubs of trees to soften all the concrete on show and a better selection of hotels which were limited in choice.
  • There was a multitude of fringe events which provided delegates with an opportunity to meet wider groups. The range of events complemented the delegate programme, which, at times, felt almost overwhelming – but at least there was something for everyone and the quality of content was excellent.

In conclusion, whilst the South of UK was not overly promoted at UKREiiF, it still was a good opportunity to advertise the region.

We will let the dust settle and take a view, but I do think that UKREiiF has found a niche in the market and it is here to stay.

Image shows delegates with Star Wars characters representing Berkshire’s booming film industry.

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