As we approach the end of 2022, it’s time to look back and reflect on what we’ve collectively achieved over the last 12 months, building on our recovery since the pandemic and looking ahead to what the new year will bring.
End of Year CEO Update: December 2022
Despite the emergence of a cost of living crisis throughout the UK, alongside unforeseen political turbulence, the West End has remained resilient as we are still on track to return to our historic £10 billion annual turnover by 2025.
I truly believe that we are now in a position to turn our excellent progress in 2022 into a new era of growth, delivering a West End with even more appeal to the modern consumer with exciting brands and experiences.
A WEALTH OF INVESTMENT
This year has seen a huge amount of investment across the district, with £5 billion to be delivered in both regeneration and development by 2026.
This transformation will take many forms, with new brands such as Outernet London already open, and thrilling new retail concepts such as IKEA due soon. New retail and experiential brands will be enhanced by public realm projects, such as Hanover Square and Photography Quarter, while Cavendish Square is set to be turned into a world-leading health and wellbeing destination.
As this investment takes shape in the next 12 months, and we build on increased visitor numbers since the opening of the Elizabeth Line, I am confident that we will see the development of an exciting new West End – one that gives our members the best environment to grow and flourish.
CHALLENGES TO OVERCOME
Of course, we still face a number of challenges, with economic headwinds growing as we look to 2023. In the short-term, the continued rail strikes are hampering our footfall during the busiest period of the year for our retail and leisure members, affecting both their Christmas sales and dedicated workforces. We continue to urge all sides to come together, which you can read more about in the Financial Times, but remain confident that we can weather the storm, with £1.55 billion set to be spent over the 8-week Christmas trading period.
However, we remain resolute in our belief that more needs to be done to welcome back overseas visitors to the Capital, largely through the reintroduction of tax-free shopping and a relaxation of Sunday trading laws in our two international centres; the West End and Knightsbridge. Now that the Chancellor has announced the revaluation of business rates with reductions across the West End, we must capitalise on the opportunity for both businesses and the wider economy to prosper in 2023 – both of these growth measures would undoubtedly contribute to this goal.
NEW WEST END COMPANY BOARD UPDATES
The New West End Company Board continues to be invaluable in its stewardship of our district, with a fantastic new addition from an industry-leading business. This year we welcomed Charles Owen, Head of Asset Management, Regent Street at The Crown Estate.
LOOKING AHEAD TO GROWTH
We can look back on the last year with immense pride, as our community has come together and shown how resilient, relevant and remarkable the West End is in a world so changed from that before the pandemic.
After Christmas, we will turn our attention to the future – a bright and prosperous one that I fundamentally believe is within our collective grasp, as we continue to work closely with our members and partners to deliver a West End that we can all be proud of.
Wishing you all a very happy New Year.
SAFE, SECURE & CLEAN STREETS
Our security and clean teams have continued their tireless work to ensure that the West End remains a safe, secure and clean place to people to visit and work in.
We have continued to work closely with the Metropolitan Police Service, Westminster City Council and Transport for London to create a welcoming environment, continually improving our operations.
Over the last 12 months our team has:
- Secured a month long operation with the Metropolitan Police Service for our district this Christmas to enhance visibility and safety.
- Ran The Great West End Clean for a month to ensure that the West End was ready for the Christmas period with extra deep cleansing and bulky waste recycling.
- Delivered a counter-terrorism training day for our members, attended by over 45 people including the Metropolitan Police Service and Westminster City Council.
- Delivered 16 operational and strategic meetings with members and local partners, sharing intelligence, solving challenges and responding to queries.
Recovered over £60,000 worth of members' goods, which were returned to members within one working day.
As we've welcomed more and more people back to the district this year, it's been wonderful to see both physical and digital activations lighting up our streets.
To celebrate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee in June, the West End transformed into a red, white and blue spectacle.
Alongside the festivities, we launched our international tourism and customer campaign, Only In The West End This Summer, with our partners at The Crown Estate, Grosvenor Property UK, Capco, Shaftesbury and Heart of London Business Alliance. The campaign showcased a whole summer of celebrations in the West End.
ART IN MAYFAIR
For the fifth time, Art in Mayfair returned to our streets, celebrating art, fashion and culture in Bond Street with the Royal Academy of Arts.
We delivered a spectacular live art show across the West End, as famous fashion and jewellery houses teamed up with prominent artists and sculptors, while Mali Morris RA – the contemporary British artist – was commissioned to design vibrant flags waving above Bond Street.
Meanwhile, the Mayfair Sculpture Trail returned this year, giving visitors the opportunity to discover striking temporary sculptures across Mayfair, including Kojo Marfo's Treasure of the Heart on New Bond Street.
LIGHTING UP FOR CHRISTMAS
Our magical Christmas light displays were switched on last month, with a focus on using less energy this year in response to the ongoing energy crisis.
ENVIRONMENTAL & SOCIAL
ROAD TO ZERO LAUNCHES
Earlier this year we launched our Road to Zero Action Plan at our inaugural West End Climate Summit.
A plan that has been in development over the last two years, working closely with our members and partners – including the environmental consultancy, Bioregional, – harnesses the One Planet Living framework to focus on three key areas; the path to net zero carbon, improved air quality and sustainable customer experiences.
We also saw huge success with our BEYOND NOW 2022, the sustainability awareness campaign. Launched in conjunction with actress and activist, Amy Jackson, the campaign once again highlighted the work that many of the UK's top brands are doing to create a more sustainable high street, encouraging responsible shopping and promoting best practice.
CLEAN POWER CAMPAIGN
Another hugely successful campaign centred around sustainability was the Clean Power campaign, launched in partnership with #TOGETHERBAND. The inspiring aerial art installation, designed by world-renowned artist Morag Myerscough, took over Oxford Street and encouraged onlookers to get involved in action around the UK's transition to a low carbon future. Profits generated by the campaign helped to fund community rooftop solar energy installations, as well as the planting of new woodland in London.
SUSTAINABLE CITY CHARTER LAUNCH
Last month we joined Westminster City Council and Westminster Property Association in launching the Sustainable City Charter.
The Charter marks a bold new era for business partnerships designed to tackle climate action across the area, encouraging businesses to work together and closely with Westminster City Council to improve their collective sustainability credentials.
More information on the Charter and how to sign up can be found here.
We also launched the Westminster Works programme, in which we – alongside the Knightsbridge Partnership – lead Westminster City Council's ambition to fill thousands of job vacancies in the hospitality and tourism sectors that were generated during the pandemic.
As we look to 2023, we will continue to build upon the extraordinary levels of interest we have seen to deliver the next generation of Westminster workers, contributing significantly to an ever-improved West End.