Bristol is "best place to live outside London" - city's economy is ready to grow
BRISTOL is set to lead the way out of recession over the next 12 months, according to a new report from one of the city's leading firms.
The report, which has been put together by property consultants Jones Lang Lasalle, has boldly predicted a prosperous future for Bristol.
According to the findings of the report, the city will be second only to London in terms of wealth, jobs and economic growth.
The South West Market Review, entitled The Winning Edge, is predicting stunning growth rates of 11.4 per cent for 2013 – one of the fastest in the UK.
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According to the predictions, there will be a big growth in well paid and highly-skilled jobs in Bristol and the surrounding area, which will be second only to London.
The survey was made public on the same day that Airbus announced it has won Government funding, which will lead to the creation of 200 highly-skilled jobs at its factory in Filton.
Experts at Jones Lang Lasalle have said that recent high profile collapses on the high street should not obscure the real picture in Bristol.
Paul Baker, who specialises in industrial properties at the firm, said: "The large out-of-town sheds are the new shops.
"Retailers are finally coming to terms with the rapid rise in smartphones and tablets. More than 60 per cent of smartphone users in the UK shop online via their mobile.
"The changing retail landscape is having a direct impact on the distribution market. The 'value' retailers are taking space to serve their expanding store network, with Oak Furnitureland and Home Bargains following in the footsteps of food retailers like Co-op, Morrisons and now Asda in taking large distribution centres in Avonmouth.
"The next big thing in retail distribution will be so-called 'dark sheds' – virtual stores designed entirely to serve online orders, rather than picking stock from supermarket stores.
"We have already seen these emerging around London."
Bristol mayor George Ferguson believes Bristol is second only to London in the economic stakes.
He said: "We are in a great position here in Bristol but that does not mean that we can afford to be complacent. We should not be sitting back and doing nothing – part of the role is to go out there and actively market the city to business.
"We are the best placed out of all the major regional cities to see growth but we need to be proactive. The fact that Bristol has an elected mayor, an active Local Enterprise Partnership and an Enterprise Zone puts it in a really strong position.
"Added to that, we have the quality of life and the natural geography, as well as a highly skilled workforce.
"Provided we are not complacent there are plenty of reasons to feel optimistic about the future."
James Durie, a director at the Bristol Chamber of Commerce, has backed the claims that the city is set for growth.
He said: "The structure of Bristol's economy means that the city is much less reliant on the public sector than other regional cities.
"There are also a lot of small businesses which are nimble and in a position to increase the number of people working for them at short notice."
Mr Durie said: "We have a well trained, highly-skilled workforce, which makes the city attractive to the bigger companies. The city has never had a problem when it comes to attracting the top talent.
"Along with that, we have sectors such as aerospace, which tend to take a long-term view. Companies like Rolls-Royce are relatively insulated against recession, because they take a long-term view and tend to plan five to ten years ahead."
Norwegian company MDE Group, which specialises in recruiting staff for oil and gas deep water and greenfield projects around the globe, has recently opened an office in Bristol. The move is to take advantage of the burgeoning green economy.
Managing director Tom Nixon said: "Bristol is an exciting and growing hub for energy-related companies, with some very skilled people in the area."
Energy company GE Oil & Gas has said it will be creating 200 jobs in Bristol by opening an underwater engineering centre at Aztec West.