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News Release

London

London's West End: UK's Retail, Leisure and Hospitality heartland contributes £51.25bn to UK economy in 2014


  • WEST END SET FOR BIGGEST TRANCH OF NEW RETAIL SPACE IN 50 YEARS
  • RECORD INTERNATIONAL DEMAND FOR RETAIL SPACE FROM PICCADILLY TO CARNABY
  • RETAIL SALES TOP £11BN ACROSS THE WEST END IN 2014- A RECORD
  • CROSSRAIL SPURS HISTORIC PUBLIC REALM INVESTMENT ACROSS THE WEST END
  • REVIVAL OF 'NIGHT TIME ECONOMY' BEHIND 9.1% UPLIFT IN FOOD AND BEVERAGE SALES[1]

Record international demand, investment and development across the West End during 2014 culminated in the area contributing £51.25bn to the UK economy.[2]

Following a wave of over 80 new West End brand openings in 2014 including Victoria Beckham, Hunter, Aquascutum, Watches or Switzerland the area experienced bumper trading days including Black Friday retail sales topped a record £11bn from Piccadilly, to Bond Street and Carnaby.

Beyond retail, the West End's leisure and hospitality economy was equally buoyant with food and drink sales up 9.1% YOY[3] and theatre ticket sales up 6.5% YOY. The West End's hotel sector benefited from a £1.5 billion investment whilst new arrivals included the Ham Yard Hotel in Piccadilly and Corbin & King's first hotel The Beaumont Hotel in Mayfair with The Grosvenor Estate.

As the report was revealed over 200 of the most influential business leaders in the West End gathered at the Gielgud Theatre this morning to hear findings from the third annual report, 'London's West End: Review & Outlook'.  Produced by global real estate experts JLL - on behalf of the New West End Company, Heart of London Business Alliance and Shaftesbury PLC - the report provides the most comprehensive analysis of the West End to date across retail, property, hospitality and leisure. In total, the West End covers 109 streets, 254 flagship stores attracting 390 million visitors per year.

Guy Grainger, CEO, JLL UK commented:  "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. This is in the context of London already being the largest city economy in Europe in GDP terms and with the prediction that continued economic recovery will further drive domestic and international footfall.  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."

 

With Crossrail set to double current passenger numbers at both Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road stations when it launches in 2018, the report reveals how this major shift in transport infrastructure has delivered an opportunity for a number of significant new development schemes – the most in over 50 years. East Oxford Street will in particular benefit from not only 300,000 sq ft of additional retail space, but additionally a £2 million public realm investment including a new public piazza between Charing Cross Road and Centrepoint.

 

The report also highlights a burgeoning desirability amongst retailers for traditionally less sought after surrounding streets, near the re-developed Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road tube stations. This is set to be a key occupancy trend over the next two years.  

 

Richard Dickinson, Chief Executive Officer, New West End Company: "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."

Elsewhere, Crossrail has had wider positive repercussions for the area in spurring a succession of major public realm initiatives led by the Business Improvement Districts and landlords including The Crown Estate and The Grosvenor Estate.

 

The first major improvement plan for Bond Street received the green light in 2014 with a multi-million pound investment and support from Westminster City Council and Transport for London. This ambitious public realm project will be the first of its kind for the area in 30 years with the aim of increasing pedestrian spaces by 50% and creating a two way traffic scheme. With the second phase of the Piccadilly Two Way scheme complete, the third and final phase will cement the transformation of the built environment, showcasing the heritage of the area and importantly improving access for visitors.

 

Sarah Porter, CEO, Heart of London Business Alliance, said: "The report highlights the continued importance of future-proofing the West End by creating a rich visitor offering and experience beyond retail and strong double digit growth in food and beverage sales in the last quarter of 2014 is a testament to this. 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."  

The vibrancy of the West End's dining and leisure scene has never been stronger with 2014 witnessing high profile arrivals onto the restaurant scene including Gordon Ramsey's Heddon Street Kitchen on Heddon Street and Café Murano in St James's. The West End is now unequivocally recognised as one of the most sought after locations for both Michelin starred restaurateurs and vibrant independents including Ember Yard on Berwick Street and Judy Joo's first UK restaurant on Kingly Street which opened in 2014. This dynamic blend of established and emerging eateries had helped drive the 'night time economy', increase visitor dwell time and increase average spend across the area.

Brian Bickell, CEO, Shaftesbury PLC, said:  "The report highlights that the West End is continuing to offer an unrivalled environment of retail, leisure and hospitality which explains in part its attraction for brands and operators seeking premises, visitors coming to London and its large working population. 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."


Rebecca Burr, editor of the Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland, and a Michelin inspector herself, said: "The West End has been known as a centre for leisure and entertainment for about 300 years, so it has a strong tradition of playing host to great restaurants. That tradition is still going strong and the last few years have seen the West End dining offer develop even further."

Burr added: "Some of the grand hotels are still delivering world class food, such as Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, but the West End continues to attract new owners and chefs who are using the highest-quality ingredients with real imagination and creativity. New stars like Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs, Fera and Karan Sethi's Gymkhana highlight a really healthy new wave of talent coming into the area. The West End is an international business district, and the wide variety of its food offer reflects this. There is one constant, though - the West End restaurants with Michelin Stars are consistently delivering excellent food."  


The research can be downloaded here
 

[1] According to the Heart of London Business Alliance Food and Beverage Sales 2014

[2] Office for National Statistics data using an analysis by Oxford Economics

[3] According to the Heart of London Business Alliance Food and Beverage Sales 2014