Summer is well and truly underway and it has been wonderful to see so many people coming back to our District to enjoy the summer offerings of our West End businesses.
CEO July Update: Art In Mayfair, Westminster Recruitment Drive and Advocacy Upates
While the Jubilee celebrations may be over, the West End has looked more alive than ever over the past few weeks, with the celebration of 50 years of Pride and Art in Mayfair returning to our District, which you can read more about in the section below. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank our incredible street cleaning & security teams in ensuring our District has remained clean and safe through all these events and activations.
Of course amid all the festivities, our District has been facing its fair share of concerns. As I am sure you are aware, there is a growing concern about the number of American-style candy stores across the Oxford Street District. While this issue is not isolated to London alone, we share your frustration and do not believe that these stores contribute to our vision of the West End as a leading International Centre.
The prevalence of these stores is an unfortunate symptom of a business rates system that is in desperate need of being overhauled, and we believe that this, combined with quick delivery on the Council's public realm investment and more progressive planning and licensing policies will support us in returning the West End to a thriving District that can flexibly respond to changing customer demands. Chief Operating Officer Dee Corsi has written to the Leader of Westminster City Council, Cllr Adam Hug on this key issue and through media opportunities, is mounting pressure on further action to be taken.
The Government's decision to call in the planning application for Marks & Spencer's Marble Arch store was a further blow to the future viability of Oxford Street. Alongside a number of West End businesses, our Chairman Sir Peter Rogers wrote to the Department for Levelling Up to express our issues, which you can read here.
Of course our Government work has been somewhat disrupted during a turbulent last week in Number 10. With the resignation of the Prime Minister and the appointment of new Cabinet Members & Ministers, we will seek to engage the interim leadership and key officials over the summer ahead of a new Premiership this autumn. We hope to have the full timetable for the Tory leadership race confirmed this week with the new Prime Minister expected to be in position by September. From a Treasury perspective, we are continuing our efforts on key national campaigns including tax-free shopping and business rates by engaging with Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi as soon as possible. You can read more about what a new Chancellor means for the West End here.
Alongside these key domestic priorities we are continuing our efforts to ensure that London remains globally competitive. Toward the end of last month, myself and our Head of Public Affairs, Paul Barnes, met with Immigration Minister, Kevin Foster MP, Retail Minister Paul Scully MP, Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston MP, and Nickie Aiken MP, alongside the UAE Ambassador His Excellency Mansoor Abulhoul, Heathrow and the UK Border Force to discuss enhancing the UK's visa regime for visitors from high spending regions. This will be critical to boost UK retail and tourism businesses and the wider economy in the post pandemic recovery and it was great to engage with key decision makers on this topic.
As a final note, I'd also like to share that after 11 years with New West End Company, Associate Director of Marketing Luciana Magliocco will be leaving us at the end of Summer to join City of London Corporation as its new Director of Destination. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Luciana for all her hard work and contributions to London's West End and wish her the very best in her future role.
It has been fantastic to celebrate my final Summer here in London's West End as Chief Executive with so many of you back in person at our Summer Reception in Hanover Square and I hope you see many of you over the next few months. Read on for a few further updates from the team, and I wish you all a successful Summer!
HOSPITALITY & LEISURE RECRUITMENT DRIVE
In response to the widespread staff sthortages in the hospitality & leisure sector, we are working with key partners to help inform Westminster City Council’s new Hospitality and Leisure Career Package that will be launched in July.
We have launched two short surveys to help us better understand the key issues for both employers and employees and how we can best support our West End businesses.
- You can complete the EMPLOYER SURVEY HERE
- You ask all of your staff to fill in the EMPLOYEE SURVEY HERE
The surveys are confidential and will provide information to create the best possible package to help recruit and retain people to work in Westminster’s bars, restaurants, hotels, casinos and other leisure businesses.
You can see more about the project at www.whalrs.org
ART IN MAYFAIR RETURNS
Art in Mayfair has returned to our District for its fifth year. In collaboration with the Royal Academy of Arts, Art in Mayfair celebrates art, fashion and culture with Bond Street at its centre.
Timed to coincide with the RA's annual Summer Exhibition, this immersive event sees world-leading fashion and jewellery houses team up with prominent artists and sculptors to transform our District into a vibrant live art show.
BOND STREET FLAGS
Contemporary British artist Mali Morris RA has been commissioned to design the flags that hang above Bond Street. Her multi-layered, abstract work, with a key focus on colour, light and space, makes the flags a vibrant and contemplative focal point of this annual celebration of creativity.
THE MAYFAIR SCULPTURE TRAIL
The Mayfair Sculpture Trail, an Art in Mayfair collaboration with Mayfair Art Weekend, offers the opportunity to see beyond the walls of the gallery. In place for six weeks, you can discover temporary sculptures across Mayfair including Kojo Marfo's new work, Treasure of the Heart, on New Bond Street. Permanent works are also included in the trail, such as the not-so-hidden Banksy on Bruton Lane.
A free audio guide is available through the Smartify app, and you’ll be able to collect a map every weekend in Grosvenor Square from 12 - 5pm.
FOSTERING LONDON'S GLOBAL CITY STATUS
Last month, the All Party Parliamentary Group for London As A Global City launched its latest report - Fostering London's Global City Status. We submitted evidence to the group's consultation for this report, citing our three key policy priorities: Tax-free Shopping, Visa Reform, Sunday Trading & Business Rates Reform. We were pleased to see that the APPG report recommends the following based on our evidence:
- The Home Office should temporarily expand the current Electronic Visa Waiver to include all six Gulf Cooperation Council states and include high-spending Far East countries until such time as the new Electronic Travel Authorisation is introduced in 2025
- The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy should conduct a cross governmental impact assessment into relaxing Sunday trading restrictions in London’s International Centres
- The Treasury should work with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to examine the merits of restoring tax-free shopping in order to for London to better compete with other global cities
- The Treasury should research a fundamental reform of the business rates system, including by studying alternative models