Doing Business in Solihull – An Economic Snapshot

Solihull Chamber bring the Solihull Expo to Holiday Inn at Birmingham Airport. A showcase of networking, knowledge sharing and the publication of a must see economic report on Solihull. 

Jas Sansi went along to support the publication of the report. 

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I saw a shadow touch a shadow’s hand

                            Paul Simon, Bleeker Street

We’re all shadows, Birmingham is in the shadow of London, Solihull is in the shadow of Brum. It’s mostly to do with population size. The bigger the place, the greater the impact, in theory.

There’s value in regions working together, combining their resources, amplifying their voices and presenting a product that is greater than the sum of its parts. 

There’s a real buzz about Solihull at the moment. Recent headlines about the borough include a new leader at the Council, Cllr Ian Courts. Birmingham Airport has a new CEO, Nick Barton. Solihull Chamber of Commerce has a new President, Robert Elliot. The NEC have a new owner, Blackstone and Touchwood has a new General Manager, Tony Elvin. 

Today saw the launch of a document at Solihull Chamber of Commerce Expo called ‘Doing Business in Solihull – An Economic Snapshot.’ It’s one that warrants attention and I was very pleased to attend and support its publication.

Head of Solihull Chamber, Lillian Elekan introduced some of the key findings about Solihull in the report;

Solihull Chamber saw 9.7% growth in 2018, there are 214,000 inhabitants in the borough, 40% qualified to NVQ4+. The average house price in Solihull is £283,719.

Solihull is home to 8225 businesses, GVA per head is £36,042 compared to a national average of £27,430. A well educated population, enjoying a high quality of life with earnings significantly above the national average. 

Office rental in Solihull is £23 per sq foot compared to £33 in Birmingham.

Solihull is gearing up for more headlines coming down a high speed track; the arrival of HS2 shatters the notion of Geography with Central London thirty eight minutes away. A £286 Million development at Birmingham Airport cements a commitment to grow the UK’s third largest airport outside London from 13 Million to 18 Million passengers per year.

The region is preparing for one million visitors to the 2022 Commonwealth Games, the NEC in Solihull will be host to nine different sports during the Games. The NEC’s catering arm Amadeus and Ticketing Factory will be central in the successful delivery of the biggest sporting event in the region’s history. 

Ahead of the Commonwealth Games, Coventry is the UK City of Culture in 2021. A unparalleled  opportunity for the region to command the spotlight for an extended period of time.

So yes, we’re all shadows, but shadows that will be touching the hands of other shadows for the coming years.

Link to the report: https://www.greaterbirminghamchambers.com/media/807536/solihull_economic_snapshot2019.pdf

Join the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce: https://www.greaterbirminghamchambers.com/membership/apply-to-become-a-member/

 

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a trustee for LoveBrum and contributor to The Asian Today newspaper @jassansi 07930 837 505

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New Benchmark for Business Events

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce enjoy their biggest ever Business Awards Dinner at Birmingham ICC.

A night where the business community toast the region’s success stories alongside recognising their responsibilities in tackling knife crime and homelessness. 

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You know an evening is going to be special when pre event social media ranges from HSBC commenting on the quality of the candidates reflecting the strengths of our region to banter about who’s wearing what.

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The host for Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce 2019 Awards Dinner, Ed James, was so excited, he woke up at 4am and it didn’t kick off until 6pm..!

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Chamber CEO Paul Faulkner and Chamber President Saqib Bhatti welcomed guests to the biggest Chamber Event I’ve had the pleasure to capture. A certain US President would describe it as ‘Huge, really huge….bigly.’

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It takes a year to organise an Awards night this like. So a huge well done to the team in bringing it all together.

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Last night saw 1300 of the region’s business, civic and political leaders gather to toast the success stories that populate our twitter walls, Linkedin updates, Facebook comments, Instagram posts and newspaper columns.

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It was a mesmerising night and a reminder of the need to identify, acknowledge and reward business success, here’s why;

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Its important to celebrate success, we’re up to our necks in quick sand deserts of bad news stories. When given the chance to raise a glass, we should take that opportunity by the scruff of those bow tied or pearled necks and scream HELL YEAH, well done, great job, you did it.

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Celebrating success is the antidote to having to deal with failure, set backs and sacrifices. And those who enjoy the greatest success have taken this unholy trinity of challenges and said No, No, No to each of them. They have persevered, demonstrated grit and delivered the goods.

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The nominated Charity for the night was Prostrate Cancer, an illness that will affect one in eight men during their lives and if not detected soon enough claims one of those lives every 45 minutes.

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The first recognition was the President’s Award. Chamber President Saqib presented the annual award to the CEO of St Basils. Recognised by a previous International Relief Secretary of State, Andrew Mitchell MP as a world authority on homelessness, Jean Templeton explained to a packed hall 3 “our aim at St Basils is to design out homelessness.’

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Dinner from the amazing Amadeus team was served after grace from Bishop David Urquhart who said ‘Hope is a better word than optimism, and faith is the hope of things to come.’

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#GBCCAward19 was a game changer for business events. If there was ever a template for event excellence, it was carved into rock at Birmingham ICC on 11th April 2019

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Aston Performing Arts entertained and educated with a breath taking performance which addressed young lives lost through knife crime. They are a world class outfit and a world apart from anything you expect at a corporate event.

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Even the ICC staff were stopped in their tracks by the performance. Something I have never seen in a decade delivering photography at this prestigious venue in Birmingham’s Westside.

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Ed James invited them back onto stage for a very well deserved standing ovation saying they were ‘From Birmingham for Birmingham with unparralled passion and energy.’

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Midlands Mayor Andy Street addressed the room underlining his confidence in our region “…we can take the future into our own hands.” Quoting Rudyard Kipling he added ‘if we can keep our heads, we can create some thing special here in the Midlands.’

Lets look at the full list of winners:

Excellence in the Community – Birmingham St Marys Hospice

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Excellence in Customer Service – Handle Kingdom Ltd

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Excellence in Hospitality – Conference Aston

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Excellence in International Business – AFL Architects

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Excellence in Manufacturing – KEP Print Group

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Excellence in People Development – National Express

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Excellence in Retail – Loki Wine

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Excellence in Sales and Marketing – Amplify

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Excellence in Technology & Innovation – MET Cloud

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Excellence in Training & Education – Services for Education

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Greater Birmingham Business of the Year 2019- Amplify

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Congratulations to all finalists and winners especially Amplify who were crowned Business of the Year. They are a fabulous team providing an upgrade to live experiences across the NEC group. Its a service I’ve purchased on two occasions and is highly recommended.

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Waking up to the news, young leaders from the Chamber Henrietta Bealey, Anna Assinder and Mark Hipwell have been recognised as three of 30under30 to watch illustrates the future is in good hands.

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A fabulous night in Brum and a new bench mark reached for delivering an Awards Event.

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One of the evening’s many special touches was a recognition of the sponsors, without whom, an event of this magnitude would not be possible.

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It was inspiring to see a theme of tackling homelessness and knife crime threaded throughout the evening from Saqib’s speech on business as a force for good to Jean Templeton’s award and the performance from Aston Performing Arts.

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It was a pleasure to be a part of it, enjoy the full set of images: https://www.flickr.com/photos/92331272@N06/sets/72157677677910927

Join the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce: https://www.greaterbirminghamchambers.com/membership/apply-to-become-a-member/

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a Trustee for LoveBrum, the charity for a better Birmingham and contributor to the Asian Today newspaper.

@jassansi 07930 837 505

 

 

 

Complex Relationships

The last three years have demonstrated the complexity of relationships.

Jas Sansi tries to make sense of a problem that has troubled humans since the beginning of time; How do we solve a problem like us? All of us…! 

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Relationships are complex. People are complex. Put two people together, you double the complexity. Each has diverse opinions, different motivations and a distinct outlook of the world around them.

Each arrives to the relationship along different paths. Joined through destiny or accident, they try to forge a new unique entity; build a home, start a family, write a new chapter in their life story. Some even succeed. Quite remarkable when you consider the odds.

Consider a relationship between twenty eight countries. Countries that share a geographical region on the planet but little else. Countries that have a history of going to war with one another, then signing peace treaties only to repeat previous mistakes. That’s the UK and the EU.

Imagine a relationship between fifty three countries. Countries that don’t even share geography or history. A relationship where one partner dominated, benefitted and ultimately walked away with the children, property and assets but somehow remained on speaking terms with their ex. That’s the UK and the Commonwealth.

Reflect on a relationship between two countries that share the same language. Where one tried to dominate the other but found themselves kicked out of the relationship. Where the balance of power radically shifted from one to the other. And through all of this, managed to display the strained veneer of a ‘special’ relationship. Special in that one side suspects they are in an abusive relationship but perhaps its best to adopt a stiff upper lip, keep calm and carry on. That’s the UK and America.

Brexit is infinitely complex. We don’t know if it’s the end of a relationship or a change in the relationship. 

Do relationships ever really end? They are so complex, even death fails to sever them. The church got it wrong when it proclaimed ‘til death do you part.’ If death hasn’t the power to end a relationship, what chance has a paper document called Article 50 got?

We, the United Kingdom are in a four way relationship; with the EU, the Commonwealth and the United States of America.

The USA advised us not to break ties with Europe. We ignored them. And now, under a new administration, they have their eyes on our lucrative health and meat markets. But surely they won’t take advantage of our weaker position outside of the EU? 

And what of the Commonwealth? Surely they can paper over any economic cracks caused by investment no longer attracted here, assets moving to the continent, skills and labour drained?

Commonwealth member Brunei are addressing complex relationships by stoning their citizens to death and Commonwealth member India may be distracted by the 100 year anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar to be overly concerned about our problems.

So, as is often the case in addressing complex relationships, we can not reach out to the partners in those relationships. We need guidance from those around us.

If we have the luxury of an extension in Brexit talks, why not use it to ask the people what they think about our relationship with the EU having being dragged over shattered glass for three long years.

Complex problems need complex solutions. If there’s no complex solution to Brexit, let’s go back to a Yes or No question. Let’s ask the people who have had three years to consider the reality of our relationships. Let’s ask the people. Again.

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a trustee for LoveBrum, the charity for a better Birmingham, and a contributor to The Asian Today newspaper.

@jassansi 07930 837 505

 

 

 

Colmore Curry Club; Six and the City

Congratulations to Simkissguy Recruitment who celebrate the Colmore Curry Club’s sixth birthday today.

Jas Sansi hears the words Cake and Curry and he’s there. 

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The Twitter bio on Simkissguy Recruitment goes ‘a multi award winning office support recruitment consultancy founded by Rebecca Simkiss and Richard Guy.’ That’s like describing a Ferrari as a car, often painted red.

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Simkissguy are much more than this; they are brand ambassadors for Birmingham and the region, plugged into Brum’s business network unlike any other company I know and support an infinite number of initiatives, projects and individuals. I’m very lucky to call them my friends.

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Let me share a personal story, my daughter Aman was invited to interview at Liverpool University. My wife has worked for the same school for 15 years and I’ve been self employed for 10, needless to say, we know nothing about interview techniques. I asked the team at Simkissguy if they could walk Aman through a structured interview. They immediately agreed, coached her and Aman got an offer. Boom.

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Today Simkissguy celebrate the sixth birthday of their flagship network event, the Colmore Curry Club. As always, every seat in the house was sold and guests were welcomed with a glass of fizz.

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Colmore Curry Club was the first networking event the company established and remains as popular as ever. It is held on the first Friday every two months and if you would like to attend, register as soon as possible because every seat is always taken.

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It’s held at Itihaas Indian Restaurant in Birmingham, guests are provided with vouchers for two drinks and a fabulous lunch after networking over canapés. The food, service and venue is awesome.

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This is a quick blog to wish the team at Simkissguy Recruitment a very happy birthday for Colmore Curry Club. Congratulations on all your achievements, thank you for supporting LoveBrum and finally for helping the next generation of the Sansi family, I will forever be indebted.

See the full set of pictures here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jassansi/sets/72157707744093765

Simkissguy Recruitment simkissguy.com @SimkissGuy

Itihaas Indian Restaurant itihaas.co.uk @Itihaasindian

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, trustee for LoveBrum and contributor to The Asian Today.

@jassansi 07930 837 505

 

 

Socialising as easy as ABCC

Pentahotel Birmingham welcome the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce for an evening of social networking on a late Spring sunny evening.

Jas Sansi brings his Nikon to the party. 

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Brum never stops surprising me. I popped into the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce (ABCC) Social Networking event last night at Pentahotel and was amazed to see a terrace drenched in sunlight. And that’s after walking past two bespoke pool tables, a play station and comfortable leather seating in a loft style setting. 

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Pentahotel Birmingham has 131 rooms priced at around £75-£85. As well as the pool tables and game consoles, there’s also a pin ball machine, a library, room service provided by Deliveroo and a gym. So less of a hotel and more of a Silicon Valley Tech HQ.

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It’s the closest hotel to Edgbaston Stadium and situated in Birmingham Southside, home to the Gay Village, Chinatown and several Theatres including Birmingham Hippodrome which attracts over 520,000 visitors every year. 

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New Street Station and Grand Central is three minutes walk away. The Mailbox, home to Everyman Cinema, Castle Fine Art Gallery, Harvey Nichols, Tom’s Kitchen, Malmaison, WSP and the BBC is over the road as is an incredible guitar shop, Fair Deal Music. 

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The ABCC are about to announce some great growth figures and continue to be a powerful network within the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce. President Qasim Majid speaking at the event summarised it simply ‘We are here to help you grow your businesses.’

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Sales Manager for PentaHotel Birmingham, Harriet Park-Davies joined Qasim in welcoming guests to the social evening and announcing they are now members of the ABCC. 

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ABCC host key events throughout the year including the Annual Dinner & Awards, Vaisakhi, Eid and Diwali Networking and Christmas drinks. ABCC Social Networking is a new initiative adopting a more relaxed approach to building your network. 

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I’ve been a member of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce and ABCC for ten years and its been an incredible journey. There is no better way to establish and develop your profile in moving your business forward. And what better way to do so than over a game of pool before enjoying a glass of wine on a sun drenched terrace in one of our most vibrant districts?

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Full set of images from ABCC Social Networking at Pentahotel Birmingham: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jassansi/sets/72157679700444568

 

PentaHotel Birmingham, Ernest Street, Holloway Head, Birmingham B1 1NS

@PentaBHX 0121 622 8800 pentahotels.com 

 

Asian Business Chamber of Commerce @AsianbizChamber 

Join the ABCC here: https://www.greaterbirminghamchambers.com/abcc

 

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a member of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce and Asian Business Chamber of Commerce, a Trustee for LoveBrum and contributor to The Asian Today.

@jassansi 07930 837 505

Diversity and Inclusivity

Jas Sansi starts the day with a Business Insider breakfast event at Growling WLG in Birmingham. An inspiring panel debate on Diversity & Inclusivity (D&I)

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Few businesses who wish to be sustainable would actively deter customers from spending hard earned money on their products and services. And yet, the actions or rather inactions of many companies do exactly that. 

If your company has an executive board or senior leadership team failing to reflect the market in which you operate, or mirror the customer base who are presently spending money with you, you may wish to consider the notion of sustainability.

A company is like a species; it doesn’t have to be the fastest or the strongest to survive, but it needs the ability to adapt. Click on any news service and you will read about the latest business failure. The rise and fall of brands is a common thread in the life cycle of corporate life.

Are you tethered to an organisation who have ignored Diversity and Inclusivity (D&I) as a strategic tool for future success? Are your best interests being served in such a company? 

This morning’s Business Insider panel debate on D&I was an incredibly valuable insight on the power of understanding and harnessing difference. Two panels of four people shared experiences of good practice as well as highlighting where challenges remain. 

Rosie Ginday of Miss Macaroon explained ‘Diversity is central to all we do. We have people training with us who have been written off but demonstrate great leadership qualities.’

Indi Deol of Desi Blitz suggested ‘if you’re not reaching out to all communities, you are heading for recruitment problems in the future. Oxford University research has found job seekers from minority groups have to send out 80% more applications than their white peers just to get an interview.’

Professor Kiran Rehan from University of Birmingham told a packed seminar room ‘Its dangerous to marginalise one group when promoting the interests of another. We need open and authenitic conversations and NOT safe spaces.’

This is just a brief glimpse of  this morning’s conversation. D&I remains a complex and as Professor Rehan described an ‘uncomfortable’ subject. If mistakes are not addressed now, we will see the same questions being asked in twenty years time.

Why waste two decades and lose the opportunities to harvest the talent around us? D&I is in danger of being seen as a tick box exercise. 

A number of attendees were HR professionals but it would be lazy thinking to consider harnessing D&I to be the responsibility of a single department. Change is necessary from the very top. HS2 represented by Mark Lomas explained ‘HS2 has Reverse Mentoring  where a junior coaches a senior member of staff over 12 sessions. And senior staff are held accountable if these sessions are rescheduled or cancelled.’ 

The success stories of the future will be those organisations that resisted the temptation of inertia. The panel suggested ‘Fear is the biggest single factor stopping senior leaders progressing the diversity agenda.’

Everyone makes mistakes but we should not be scared of doing so if a learning outcome is attained. Organisations who possess corporate DNA from the building blocks of diversity and inclusivity are tomorrow’s success stories. Ask anyone scanning the monitors in a betting shop, it’s always sensible to back a winner. 

 

Jas Sansi is Diversity Trustee for LoveBrum, the charity for a better Birmingham, a columnist for The Asian Today and a freelance photographer.

@jassansi @LoveBrumUK

 

Asha’s Go East…to Solihull

Asha’s Indian Restaurant take the brand into Touchwood, Solihull where you can now tikka break from your shopping to enjoy delicious food in their stunning new restaurant. 

Jas Sansi serves up a blog about the new venture. Enjoy.

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Asha’s Birmingham, after a decade of serving Brum’s business community take the format into Solihull’s premier retail destination, Touchwood. This has proved very successful in Dubai where the restaurant commands prime location in The Mall of the Emirates.

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Asha’s Solihull brings greater choice to Touchwood’s food offering. Satisfying the demand for independent restaurants is a wise decision for retail destinations. People want choice, high quality and an experience. Asha’s Solihull promise all of this, and much more.

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The restaurant is named after one of India’s greatest living artists, singer Asha Bhosle. Images of Asha Ji can be seen throughout the restaurant, with Prime Ministers, Presidents and global artists illustrating the company, the much loved singer keeps.

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Asha Bhosle is 86 and presently on a world tour. She recently performed at the nearby Genting Arena wowing an appreciative audience. Many would have grown up watching Indian cinema soundtracked by Asha Bhosle.

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She has sold more vinyl than The Beatles and Rolling Stones combined. Her bio lists her as a performing artist since the year Paul McCartney was born, 1943. She is an icon and the restaurant group that bears her name is sensitive to her legacy and contribution to Indian culture.

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Asha’s Solihull is a fabulous addition to the Town which is home to an affluent demographic. The option to enjoy the very best Indian food is no longer limited to making the eight mile journey to Brum.

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If you’re driving into Touchwood to dine at Ashas Solihull, here’s a tip for parking; enter the car park and head towards the exit area. There’s an escalator straight up to the food court. Its signposted for the Cinema, who I understand will be showcasing Indian Films soon.

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Familiar faces from Ashas Birmingham will be on site including Dominic and Sunil to ensure a smooth transition to the high quality, diners are accustomed to.

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General Manager of Touchwood, Tony Elvin is no stranger to hospitality recognised as one of Greater Birmingham’s Power 250 from his experience with Hotel du Vin. Tony was instrumental in bringing Asha’s to Touchwood and speaking to him last night about future plans for the centre, his power ranking is only going to move upwards.

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Tony Elvin talking about the new restaurant said “We’re lucky to have a selection of the most trusted national brands operating out of Touchwood but if you wanted to add something new and independent to the experience then Asha’s has to be the first name on the team sheet. That was why I was so keen to get in touch with the Asha’s team and try to bring them into the centre. I think they’ll bring a touch of elegance to the Solihull dining scene and we couldn’t be more excited.”

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Huge congratulations to owners Paul Bassi and Pawan Kenth described by West Midlands Growth Company Director Ninder Johal DL as ‘Serial Entrepreneurs’ in developing and expanding the restaurant group.

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The VIP, Media & Corporate launch was organised by ReWired PR who showcase an incredible client base including the very top end of restaurants. Recent launch events have included Gaucho, The Ivy and Tattu.

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News of the opening reached far and wide, one of the group’s suppliers is Aston based Chefset who asked if I could get a picture of Chef Sunil using one of their pans. I went to school with Chefset’s owner Vijay Korotane so I was happy to oblige.

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Asha’s Solihull opens on Wednesday 27th March 2019. With Winter securely packed away, enjoying lunch or dinner at this stunning restaurant will definitely put a Spring in your step.

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Let me know what you think, hashtag is #AshasSolihull.

Asha’s Solihull, Touchwood, Solihull, West Midlands B91 3GJ

 0121 200 2767 reservations@ashasuk.co.uk

ashasuk.co.uk

Full set of images from the launch: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jassansi/sets/72157707795808574