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The Grouch 23/12/10

The Grouch’s festive address, looking back and forwards

Published on December 23rd 2010.


The Grouch 23/12/10

Greetings my little elves. This week, I decided I would look back wistfully at my annus maximus, but also scratch my crystal balls and muse on next year, when we’ll all be a little bit older, wiser, and have hair growing out of places we never used to when we were young.

Steering through the hazy fug that was 2010, I remember little of its business news.

But here are the highlights:

January:
An AGMA report says Manchester has an ‘image problem’ that is putting off top firms from coming here, citing areas around train stations and the airports. Good to see these are both key areas for regeneration in 2011.

The Sainsbury/Tesco battle in Trafford begins, with Derwent Holdings and White City in the orange and white corner, and Lancashire Cricket club in the other, batting for Tesco. That mixed metaphor ran and ran, with Tesco eventually winning by a technical knockout. The video umpire demanded a replay, however, and they’re still both at loggerheads.

Grouch also revealed that Man City chief exec earns £1.5m – three times more than his Utd counterpart David Gill. Stitch that.

February:
Peel Group has £740m knocked off its asset value – not that it seemed to make too much difference. It also sells a stake in its airports division to Vancouver Airport Services.

Hale-based property tycoon Nabeel Chowdery, who made the Sunday Times Rich List in 2007 worth an estimated £150m, is in court for a bankruptcy hearing. A variety of banks and a casino are among creditors on the £70m petition. Chowdery was later made bankrupt, one of the highest profile casualties of the property crash. He’s a fighter though, and I’m sure he’ll be back.

Urbis closes to make way for the National Football Museum. Former boss Vaughan Allen becomes the new chief executive of Cityco.

March:
The St James’ Club in Manchester appoints (whisper it) its first female operations manager, Alex Rhodes. It only took them 175 years though.

The late Tony Wilson’s music jamboree In The City relaunches, and promptly sacks off The Midland Hotel for City Inn (now Mint), Malmaison and Abode.

Trinity Mirror acquires the Manchester Evening News. The Guardian Media Group cuts its newspaper link with the city for the first time after 189 years. For shame. Incompetent management, particularly by Mark Dodson, is the root cause many think.

April:
Tom Bloxham MBE and the inventor of Twitter or some such, put the Smithfield Building in the Northern Quarter up for sale for £7m (form a queue) and luxury property firm Circa Life, which built footballers mansions, is wound up.

May:Bashar Issa, boss of the collapsed BSC Group, is arrested as he steps off a ferry in Holyhead, in connection to a corporate manslaughter charge at his Sarah Tower site in Manchester.

The Daily Sport announces plans to build a photo studio in Manchester so they can carry out their own rudey-nudey shoots and stream them online. However sales fall off a cliff in the first quarter of the year, however.

Manchester Central is accused of price hikes by some of its customers. They feel annoyed about costs going up in a recession.

Rumours of ITV’s move from Quay Street to MediaCity begin to emerge.

June:
Peel is out-ed over its plans to turn its Museum of Museums into a massive exhibition centre to rival Manchester Central.

Manchester Utd signs an £80m sponsorship deal with Chicago Aon Corp after a survey shows that 99 per cent of Koreans knew the name of the club’s shirt sponsor.

The City Council starts the CPO process on the London Road Fire Station and accounts for GMPTE reveal it paid £860,000 on fees to second directors from other firms.

July:
The Co-operative and Manchester City Council press on with plans to create two new squares in the city centre as part of a 20-acre redevelopment.

The Rock, a new £350m shopping centre, which includes three department stores, 60 shops, a cinema, a bowling alley and 400 flats, opens in Bury.

August:
Local authorities agree to invest £0.5bn on three Metrolink extensions and 14 new trams, running to Oldham and Rochdale town centres and Manchester Airport.

Manchester has the second highest business insolvency rate, according to new research from trade credit insurer, Euler Hermes UK.

Spinningfields is nominated for three gongs at the inaugural UK Event Awards - ‘Best Unusual Venue'; ‘Best Use of an Outdoor Space for an Event' and ‘Best Marketing Strategy'.

September:
Manchester City FC agrees sponsorship deals with Jaguar cars, hotel chain Malmaison, Thomas Cook Sport travel and Heineken.

Allied London sells No 1 The Avenue at Spinningfields for £18.6m to Warwick-based IM Properties and tips Confidential off on plans for a new street on Spinningfields called Northgate.

Premier Inn submits plans to open a new hotel on the blighted Sarah Tower site in Manchester.

The Manchester Evening News leaves town and lands in Chadderton. 142 years of Manchester occupancy disappears: makes you wonder what it’s for.

October:
The cost of a taxi licence is set to rise from £377 to £700 and a new random allocation system will be introduced, according to the city council.

Funding cuts put plans for the Royal Opera House North on hold but Argent open its new ‘green’ office building, The Hive, on Lever Street.

November:
Everton footballer Phil Neville puts his three-storey pad in the Beetham Tower up for sale, with a £4m price tag. No garden though.

Twenty staff look set to lose their jobs as Central Salford Urban Regeneration Company is surprisingly axed.

Peel starts talks to sell the Trafford Centre to Capital Shopping Centres for £1.6bn.

December:
A 45-strong contingent of organisations from across Manchester sign up to represent the city at MIPIM - the annual real estate piss-up convention taking place in Cannes next March.

ITV finally ends speculation about the future of Granada by moving it to MediaCity on Salford Quays. A new set for Coronation Street will be built in Trafford next to the Imperial War Museum North.

And about five minutes ago, Lancashire Cricket Club was hit for six by Derwent Holdings, which has asked for their ground redevelopment plans to be scrutinised by a Judicial Review. The timing is described as ‘cynical’. They might be right.

2011...
Next year? Another tough one for the property market, punctuated at random points by the pantomime that is the London Road Fire Station. Argent will become the council’s chosen partners, Britannia will refuse to give it to them and eventually it will become a massive Tesco. Probably.

The BBC building on Oxford Road will also find a buyer – Grouch’s money is on Bruntwood – and Sir Howard will help First Street along once more as he successfully convinces Sheik Mansour to relocate the City of Manchester Stadium to the site.

East Manchester will become an Area 51-style top secret bunker, designed by Peter Saville and Ben Kelly. Mysterious artefacts and secrets will be stored there, including a super casino, Bashar Issa and the money Peter Hook made from flogging the Hacienda for flats.

Trafford and Salford Councils will merge in the face of the cuts, and declare itself an independent republic, with a new moniker combining the names of both boroughs -Salford. A firm of brand consultants will receive £50,000 for coming up with the new name. The borough will then be immediately bought by Peel Group and renamed Whittakerville.

And the former Nynex will finally bag a new sponsor, becoming the Manchester Confidential Arena. Gordo, Sleuth and The Grouch will move into the building, immediately close it to the public and live like feral beasts forever more. Or until one of them wants to go to San Carlo. Or the Marble Arch.

Right, I’m off to swap all the kids’ toys with lumps of coal. Have a bearable Christmas. And remember; don’t have nightmares.

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