John Forkin

John Forkin of Marketing Derby

Bringing business to Derby

Marketing Derby managing director John Forkin explains how the organisation is helping attract businesses to the city with its new London office.

Marketing Derby opened the doors of its new London office at the back end of last year in a bid to heighten its activities in the capital during 2017.

Seven months on and the office has proven a huge hit and has helped drive further inward investment into the city.

But why the opening of an office in the Capital? Managing director John Forkin explains: “We have always had a focus on the London market and over the years have held a large number of embassies in venues across the capital.

“Many of our investment successes have emanated from London and we continue to grow new investor contacts.

“Because of this, we have been considering establishing a more stable base, and following conversations with a number of our bondholders who have similar cost-effective arrangements in London, we decided to take the plunge and commit.

“The office is in a serviced incubator complex and will cost only £600 for the remainder of 2017. This allows us to host visitors and roundtable meetings, as well as serving as an address for our London activities.”

During 2017, Marketing Derby’s London-based activities include embassy events at Lambeth Palace and City Hall, as well as hosting an agenda magazine ‘Big Talk’ in the Marketing Derby office and the launch of the Derby-London Ambassador Club.

“The idea behind the club is to bring together the large number of Derbians who are based in the capital and keen to act as ambassadors, endorsing our investment offer and making introductions to key contacts who themselves might consider investing in Derby.

“It’s been running for seven months now and we’ve already started using it both as an address for invitations and things but also for meetings and round tables.

“It’s on a rolling monthly contract so we can stop it whenever we want however it seems to be paying for itself already. If it’s working we’ll continue with it, if it serves its purpose, we’ll move on. We’ll decide at the end of the year.”

The Marketing Derby team will now be hoping that the new office continues to build on what has already been a stellar year for the city.

Not only have Toyota and Rolls-Royce announced plans to pump a combined £1.4bn into their Derby plants but several other major developers have also announced plans to invest in the city.

One such scheme is St Modwen's £70m Derby Triangle development, which will create 3,300 new jobs for the city once completed.

Another is the £175m investment by Developer Goodman International into Derby Commercial Park, which will create approximately 3,000 new jobs across the site.

While local developer Ivygrove Developments is set to convert a seven-acre site into a £10m industrial estate, which will help create up to 500 jobs, once completed.

Speaking about the city’s recent successes, Forkin added: “If you’re the world headquarters of Rolls-Royce and they employ 15,000 people in your town, that speaks volumes in itself. An investor once said to me, Rolls-Royce have done my due diligence for me.

“There is a kind of confidence in the air which comes from being the global headquarters of Rolls-Royce in particular with them employing 15,000 people in what is quite a small city and the rest feeds off from that.

“We’ve attracted around £3.7bn over the last two years alone. In terms of what makes it a great place to do business, it’s very central and very handy for London.

“It’s not a large city either but it has a very large population on its doorstep with over two million people living within 45 minutes of the city centre.

“We also have this amazing Derbyshire countryside which includes the Peak district right on our doorstep. They’re the key things, access to markets, access to staff and the quality of life.

“Increasingly, we’re also working with neighbours in Nottingham, Birmingham, Coventry and so forth to promote the Midlands Engine activity. When it comes to international promotion, we’re doing so much more on the Midlands platform.

“We all went to China together last year and held a pavilion at MIPIM this year. In terms of international promotion, I think you’ll see a lot more collaboration between the East and West Midlands under this midland banner.”

So, what does the future hold for Marketing Derby? John concluded: “We’re different form most inward investment agencies as we’re funded by 320 business bondholders (companies located in the city) as well as being supported by the local council.

“We sit as a kind of pro-Derby broker which sits between investors and the local authority and it seems to work for all of us. In terms of the future of Marketing Derby, we’ll just continue to be that pro-Derby broker and our major funder is now the business community.

“I think why companies, from major PLC’s down to sole-traders back us, is because they like what’s going on in the city in terms of the regeneration.

"It makes their attraction and retention of key staff all the easier if the city is on the up and we want to ensure that continues to be the case.”