Rob Bray, the chief executive of Edgbaston Priory Club, argues for more promotion of the city’s leisure offering – plus the signing of Messi and Ronaldo…
Please introduce yourself
I am Robert Bray, chief executive of Edgbaston Priory Club, a private racquets and leisure members’ club set in 14 acres of landscaped grounds, just five minutes from the city centre.
What does your business do?
Our primary purpose is to provide an outstanding service to our members. The Club has recently completed a multi-million pound redevelopment and members now enjoy some of the very best sporting facilities in the country. This includes 32 tennis courts offering a variety of playing surfaces, 10 squash courts, heated indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and a fitness suite, including a gym and exercise studio. We are also home to the Aegon Classic, the pre-Wimbledon international ladies tennis tournament which has been elevated to Premier status in 2014. We are an LTA High Performance Tennis Centre and we run a vibrant community programme at Lordswood School, Queen’s Park and Cannon Hill Park, encouraging youngsters and adults across the city to play tennis.
Is Brum a good place to do business?
I have certainly found it so. From the outset, the key people in the city gave their support to our vision, recognising the importance of providing a club that would attract people to live and work here as well as the value to the local economy of hosting world class international tournaments.
What are your biggest gripes with it?
There is still so much work to be done on promoting the city’s leisure offering, particularly for Edgbaston. It would be fantastic to see better transport links across Edgbaston so that visitors to the tennis or cricket could also take in a trip to the Barber Institute or the MAC.
How do you feel your visitors see the city?
Leafy green Edgbaston is not something outsiders normally associate with Birmingham so prospective members and visitors to the Aegon Classic are pretty amazed when they see our manicured tennis courts, outdoor pool and dining terraces. We’re a country club in the heart of the city thanks to the landscape of Edgbaston; there aren’t many UK cities that can offer that.
Does Birmingham offer any particular advantages for business?
Its people and location! Many of our members are leading business people and it’s their passion and drive that makes this city one of the best places to do business. Birmingham’s central location also makes it easy to connect with other large cities around the country.
What should our priorities be as a city?
Continue to invest in infrastructure and support international sporting events which promote Birmingham around the world to millions, even billions, of people.
If you had £1bn to spend on improving Brum what would you do with it?
Purchase Birmingham City Football Club, build a new stadium, persuade Sir Alex Ferguson to come out of retirement and sign Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo – now that would really promote the city!