The MD of the Ticket Factory and Eight Feet Tall, says our city is a match for Europe’s finest – but there’s still work to be done to make it even better
Please introduce yourself
I am Stuart Cain, managing director of the Ticket Factory and Eight Feet Tall, two Birmingham-based live event businesses that form part of the NEC Group and employ more than 130 people.
What do your companies do?
The Ticket Factory is one of the UK’s leading e-commerce retailers, selling more than 2.5million tickets to leading sport, music and entertainment events – everything from Robbie Williams and the Rolling Stones to the Chelsea Flower Show and Clothes Show Live. Eight Feet Tall works with promoters, exhibition and conference organisers, and production companies to create marketing campaigns for live events, as well as securing sponsorship and media sales.
Is Brum a good place to do business?
It’s a brilliant place! We work across Britain and Europe and the train, road and air connections are better than anywhere else in the UK. Birmingham has really sorted itself out in recent years and I love walking through the city – it really shows what can be done when the public sector creates a really good environment and the private sector plugs the gaps with great bars, restaurants, and retail and leisure opportunities. Areas such as Brindley Place, Victoria Square, the Arcadian, Custard Factory and Mailbox are as good as anything else you could find in Europe. The professional services and creative communities are also really vibrant. I love the positivity around the place.
What are your biggest gripes with it?
How the city is seen by the outside world. There is phenomenal effort expended promoting the city but it only works if people are willing to listen. This is why our actions have to speak louder than words. Our promotional efforts have to be backed up by great companies doing brilliant work, schools and universities delivering outstanding academic achievements, and fantastic cultural and sporting events.
How do you feel your clients see the city?
When they come here, they love it. You can see any pre-conceptions melt away as you walk them through the centre. The champagne bar at the Mailbox is great at night – we had one client compare it to Manhattan! More recently, another delayed a meeting to walk around the library and raved about it for hours. We need more non-Brummies to give the city a try.
Does Birmingham offer any particular advantages as a destination for business?
Location. City facilities. People. Leisure. Retail. Transport infrastructure. It’s all there. Those who don’t know what’s at the end of the Aston Expressway need to be encouraged to give it a go.
What should our priorities be as a city?
Creating a well-educated, positive pool of potential employees to attract companies to the area. Plus, helping businesses thrive and get their product, message or service out to the world.
If you had £1bn to spend on improving Brum what would you do with it?
Convince one of the world’s largest businesses to move their global HQ to the city. Jaguar Land Rover is the poster boy for the region and organisations such as GKN are nearby, but what if Vodafone plc or my old employer WPP announced they were taking over Brindley Place? Get a big global player to move and that will send ripples around the commercial world.