Business team from Leipzig set to visit Plymouth

By WILLIAM TELFORD, Business Editor/ Plymouth Herald

Lutz Thielemann

Lutz Thielemann

 A DELEGATION of business leaders from the German city of Leipzig is planning to visit Plymouth this spring to meet companies here and talk about possible collaborations.

The party is expected to include Lutz Thielemann, managing director of Invest Region Leipzig (IRL), and English businessman James Parsons (see below), now based in the East German city, among others.

They are keen to meet Plymouth companies and organisations interested in doing business in Leipzig and Germany, perhaps in April.

Already, Peter Hartland, chief executive of Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, and retail magnate Chris Dawson, himself plotting to expand his The Range chain into Europe, have told The Herald they would welcome a meeting.

The visit comes less that a year after IRL invited The Herald to tour Leipzig and meet its business leaders.

Although bigger than Plymouth – and with much better road, rail and air links – Leipzig is, nonetheless, similar in many ways.

It is a peripheral, regional city, has a large, innovative university, and boasts a manufacturing bedrock, in its case around automotive rather than Plymouth’s marine engineering.

Leipzig is also celebrating its 1,000th anniversary this year, and 150 years of its famous trade fair, with a programme of events planned.

So its businesses see 2015 as the perfect year to build links with Plymouth.

“We’re looking to come over and are interested in meeting people,” said Mr Parsons, who has run language school ICC Sprachinstitut in the German city for almost 20 years.

“It’s something we can definitely organise, we have funding available from Lutz’ team, if he has an opportunity to present Leipzig to British companies.

“But we need to know who is interested in meeting German businesses.

“That could be the Chamber of Commerce, maybe people involved with maritime as well.”

IRL is a business development agency set up in 2013 with a 1.7million-euro budget and a brief to market Leipzig and its region, Saxony, attracting employers and skilled workers to make the city, region, and ultimately the German economy stronger.

Leipzig is already home to some of the business world’s biggest companies – including Porsche, BMW, DHL and Amazon – but it is now seeking to develop its SME sector in a bid to grow and future-proof its economy.

It is seeking to tempt smaller firms to relocate or expand into the city, and grow indigenous businesses.

It’s all part of a long-term plan to reduce unemployment, still at about 10 per cent, boost population by 50,000 to 600,000 by 2020, increase the city’s cultural draw and consumer spend, and create a safety net should any of the large employers suffer a setback.

Mr Parsons said he was delighted The Herald, and Plymouth businessman Kevin Kelway, of Dorcas Media, visited Leipzig last year – and with the interest in the city The Herald’s coverage created.

“It’s only reasonable that we continue the business relationship and we’d like to have a return visit,” he said.

Would your business or organisation be keen to meet the delegation from Invest Region Leipzig? If so, contact The Herald and we will pass on the request. Email

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(Publicity generated by Dorcas Media)

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