The West End – which covers 109 streets and 254 flagship stores that attract 390m visitors per year – report is a joint effort from property investment management firm Jones Lang LaSalle, the New West End Company, Heart of London Business Alliance and Shaftesbury PLC.
According to the study, there were more than 80 new brand openings in the West End in 2014, including Victoria Beckham, Hunter and Watches of Switzerland to support high levels of trading. Indeed retail sales of £11bn were recorded on Black Friday alone across the West End area.
Additionally, leisure and hospitality was also a powerful driver for the economy, as food and drink sales climbed by 9.1 per cent year-on-year and theatre ticket purchases grew by 6.5 per cent.
The hotel market was also one that played its part in the London area’s growth, securing a £1.5bn investment as new venues opened in Piccadilly and Mayfair with the Ham Yard Hotel and The Beaumont Hotel respectively.
Richard Dickinson, CEO, New West End Company, said: “The report reveals 2014 was a strong year for the West End’s performance and landmark leasing deals. With an unrivalled interplay of retail, leisure and hospitality industries, it is not surprising that the West End continues to outstrip its competitors with retail sitting at the core of the area’s economic output.
“Existing retailers want to upsize and international brands are vying to locate here with the upcoming pipeline of new retail spaces in the Core West End set to fulfil this demand.”
A report in January said that London has the most expensive and dirtiest transport operation in the world, which makes it clear better improvements to transport could increase the fortunes of businesses further.
Real Business has looked in depth at the ongoing £14.8bn Crossrail development and observed just exactly how it will impact companies and commuters alike. The West End data noted that the new line will double current passenger numbers at Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road stations when it finally starts running in 2018.
Furthermore, Crossrail is set to open up 300,000 sq ft of extra retail space on Oxford Street and a new £2m piazza for the public will open between Charing Cross and Centrepoint to enrich the area further.
Guy Grainger, CEO, JLL UK, said: The West End’s connectivity and public realm will benefit hugely from the arrival of Crossrail in 2018 as well as ongoing inward investment and redevelopment.
“Innovation in local government financing is required to secure vital investment in public realm project, infrastructure and place management. Continuous dynamism and proactivity is required to ensure that the West End always remains relevant and stays as the leading visitor destination and investment hub.”
An example of innovation in business offerings in the area can be witnessed with the opening of a new e-cigarette bar called Avant Garde that has opened around Oxford Circus. It was founded by two sisters who quit their law careers to move into entrepreneurship and “vaping”, choosing Wonder Woman as an inspiration.
Elsewhere, a Piccadilly doughnut shop used real-time advertising on the London Underground to drive commuters to its store, which resulted in a sales spike.
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Sarah Porter, CEO, Heart of London Business Alliance, added: “The area’s strong leisure and entertainment offer continues to enrich the visitor experience with institutions such as The Royal Academy of Arts and The Ritz London giving the area international acclaim.
“As home to many of the West End’s most renowned historic qualities, we have worked carefully with TfL, Westminster City Council and The Crown Estate to ensure our approach to improving the public realm for visitors puts the heritage of the area at its heart.”
Brian Bickell, CEO, Shaftesbury PLC, concluded: “Our areas, which include Carnaby, Soho and Seven Dials, are havens for independent retail, restaurant and leisure concepts which provide an important element of the diversity and vibrancy of the overall West End offer. The interplay between the retail and the restaurant scene, which complements the West End’s many other attractions, continues to be a draw for all those seeking something new and importantly, unique.”
Image via Shutterstock.
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