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Business news, 01.07.2003 15:11

Manchester Delegation Building Business Links

St. Petersburg A Manchester business delegation, in St. Petersburg from June 29 to July 4 as part of the official Manchester Week in St. Petersburg program, will place an emphasis on creative industries, according to the delegation's head Anil Ruia.

Nevertheless, it's overall aim will be to build better business relations between the two cities - though twinned in 1962, members of the delegation admit that the business links between the two cities remain underdeveloped.

"The emphasis of this week is on creative industries, so we've got things like music events, organized by Martin Leaver, and sound equipment programs and fashion shows, and we've brought people with links to the education sector, which is very strong in Manchester, because we have four world class universities," said Ruia, who is also a director of Wrengate, a family textile-importing business, said at a press conference on Monday.

"Textiles have always been a strong link, because a lot of the machinery used in Russia is made in Manchester or in the Northwest," he said.

The Manchester business delegation will take part in a seminar on the reconstruction of old buildings in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. "We'll share the experience that we've had in Manchester," Kath Robinson, a Manchester councilor, said on Monday.

Robinson said that 15 years ago, some 25 percent of the buildings in Manchester city center and 75 percent of the buildings outside the city center needed reconstruction.

Other members of the delegation are organizing their own programs and seminars. Stadium Consumer Products, which specializes in the design and sale of furniture, automotive and childcare products, Bentley Jennison, working in corporate finance, and Bircol, a research and consulting firm, have said that they intend to create a joint venture for the manufacture of wooden furniture in St. Petersburg and to find distributors for their produce in the city. A wider-reaching aim of the joint venture is to establish business links for a variety of UK companies in consumer goods and other industries.

Creative Industries Development Service will be presenting a program of two seminars aimed at developing capacity in the creative-industry sector in St. Petersburg and an industry networking event to launch a TACIS project.

"There are lots of things we can share with each other, so it's to our mutual advantage," Ruia said.

He believes that, although the cities were twinned a long time ago, no genuine project has yet been accomplished, and there are none currently under way.

"To be perfectly frank, I think we've lost touch, a little bit, the emphasis now has to be on beginning the friendship and the contacts over again," Ruia said.

The Manchester business delegation comprises representatives of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Arts for Health, an organization of the Manchester Institute for Research and Innovation, the Creative Industries Development Service, an economic development agency for creative industries in the Manchester area, Marketing Manchester, the School of Sound Recording and a number of universities, colleges and schools from Manchester.

The Manchester Chamber of Commerce and Industry represents over 3,200 companies and is the largest such chamber in the Northwest of England.

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