And so just as quickly as you can say ‘un verre de rosé s’il vous plait’, another MIPIM has come and gone. An annual fixture for some of the most influential players in the international property industry, this year’s edition of the world’s premier annual real estate conference welcomed 24,000 delegates to sunny Cannes, from over 100 countries.
MIPIM was established as a much smaller affair in 1990, and despite multiple property cycles and an economic downturn or two, has grown steadily since. As with most cyclical events, it continues to provide attendees with a unique, seasonal barometer of ‘where the property industry is currently at.’ Indeed the most common question in post-MIPIM client meetings is ‘what was the atmosphere like this year?’ – in other words, is the property industry flying or is it flopping?
Understandably, that question seemed to have extra weight this year in light of all things Brexit. This is, after all, a property conference in Europe, with representation from all over Europe, but where UK delegates lead the way in terms of attendance. As a result, the major elephant in Les Palais this year was quite clearly Brexit.
Yet, in keeping with the surprising optimism and level of activity in the UK market post-referendum, the message coming from all the UK stands was ‘We are open.’
MIPIM has perhaps grown too accustomed to that message. Nowadays every other stand you walk past seems to declare: ‘Scunthorpe is open’, ‘Ljubljana is open’, ‘Krakow (yes you guessed it) is very much open.’ As a side point, how many towns/cities would really turn up if they were closed?!
But wandering around the UK representation this year, the words ‘we are open’ seemed to have more poignancy. The Brexit vote may have signalled ‘we are closed’ to many Europeans, but the UK’s property industry could not have been clearer that as far as investment goes, it still wants to do business with its neighbours across the channel and beyond.
Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and the Midlands all took much larger stands at MIPIM this year – surely no coincidence – whilst London openly welcomed delegates to its stand, which continues to be the most prominent of any at the conference. Most tellingly, the department for international trade partnered with the British Property Federation for the first time ever, in a bid to sell Britain as a long term investment destination.
And so far from the glum predictions made by those in the UK property industry in the immediate aftermath of the referendum last year, the atmosphere at MIPIM 2017 seemed to suggest one of two things. Firstly, the UK is open to investment – and the fundamentals of the UK market clearly continue to make it an attractive destination for overseas capital. And secondly, whether individual delegates from the UK chose to vote in or out, all are determined to make the best fist of it possible. Echoing the words of famous French wartime singer Edith Piaf, the message from the UK this year was ‘Non je ne regrette rien, and frankly even if we do regret Brexit, we’re not going to let it hold us back.’