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Why Is London’s West End Still So Relevant for Restaurants?

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London’s West End is a historic, thriving area of Central London that has been popular with top scoring chefs, property landlords and big developers from around the world for decades. 2016 looks set to follow this trend, so what makes this area so diverse, distinct and vibrant?

A Diverse Property Mix Attracts a Diverse Crowd

As a district, London’s West End is thick with some of the capital’s top leisure and hospitality venues. These include top-tier restaurants and entertainment around Leicester Square and Covent Garden, through to the UK’s busiest shopping areas and the historic City of London, which is inside the City of Westminster.

London is home to 65 Michelin-starred restaurants in total. With restaurants like recently opened The Araki, headed up by Sushi Master Mitsuhiro Araki, which has landed two coveted Michelin Stars, London’s West End has a pull stronger than most other areas of the capital. Other famous restaurants include Gordon Ramsay’s Heddon Street Kitchen just off Regent’s Street, and the one Michelin Starred Fera at Claridges which has recently been taken over by British Chef extraordinaire Simon Rogan.

What this amounts to is a clustering of leisure and hospitality property whose quality can’t be matched anywhere else in the country.

In November, the Standard reported that Bond Street was the fourth most expensive shopping street in the world, with rents hitting £862.92 per sq. ft. It is home to premium stores like Armani, Burberry and Mulberry. These top-end retailers sit clustered with high street brands like Apple, Topshop and Primark, and together they create a retail environment for all tastes and budgets.

Continual Renewal Generates New Experiences

While the West End might be a steady stream of high-paced activity, its success mustn’t be attributed exclusively to its existing leisure and hospitality mix. Rather, it’s the constant developments of new plans that keep the West End a hub of exciting, new activity.

A fantastic example of this was reported in City AM in October. The article explained that West End landlords would be banding together to create a business improvement district, similar to those found in New York. These aim to reduce traffic, improve pedestrian areas and put regenerative schemes into action.

Over 600 businesses around Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street are represented, and the scheme is funded exclusively by local retailers and occupants in the area.

Backing and Investment by Big Name Developers

Developers such as The Crown Estate, Grosvenor and Aviva are already being approached to create a new committee funded by property firms. The committee will aim to improve London’s busiest leisure and hospitality areas, boost commercial revenue and encourage further investment.

The Crown Estate’s David Shaw OBE has already urged property owners to back the proposal:

“The track record of New West End Company’s success since its inception in 2002 is clear. The Crown Estate was a founder member of New West End Company and as the largest landowner in the area is wholly behind the Property Owners BID. All landowners stand to benefit from the BID and we urge them to follow our lead and support the ballot”.

The Crown Estate is currently investing hundreds of millions into the West End, with investments in One Eagle Place and £450m into St James’s Market. Leading global brands such as Smeg and ASSOS have already registered with St James’s Market.

According to the Crown Estate’s Anethea Harries, “London’s success depends on projects like St James’s market, which is re-establishing an historic part of the West End into an exciting new destination.”

Vittorio Bertazzoni, SEO of Smeg, has said “We are delighted to be partnering with The Crown Estate on the St James’ project, a prestigious property in an iconic area of London.”

“Thanks to its location nestled between historic landmarks, St James, a premium world class destination, is the perfect choice to welcome our UK flagship store which will thrive in such elegant and distinctive architectural surroundings, mirroring very much the family values of Smeg.”

There is no doubt that the next 12 months will be significant for the West End as big restaurateurs will continue to populate the area, more local businesses will step in to provide funding that will increase their revenue, and finally, large developers will transform whole areas of the district. London’s historic West End is sure to remain a forerunner in the world’s leisure and hospitality scene.

At Restaurant Property, we know that finding the right tenants for your West End development is difficult. However, with our industry-leading knowledge and expertise, we will guide you through the process successfully. Call us today on 020 7935 2222 or email enquiries@restaurant-property.co.uk.

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