This week saw us visiting some of our Asian members based in Beijing and Hong Kong and attend MIPIM Asia, Asia’s Property Leaders Summit. The trip was an excellent way to showcase the West End, our work and business initiatives as well as encourage even more investment in to the West End.
I started in Beijing, where I met with Peter Barrett, Regional Customer Strategy Manager for Business and Strategy Growth at the British Embassy, and gave him an overview of New West End Company and explained how we serve our members. This was also the perfect time to explain our partnership with The UK China Visa Alliance (UKCVA), where we are actively calling upon the UK Government to make Chinese visas valid for 10 years, after successfully championing the visitor visa extension to 2 years. I set out how this would give a huge boost to the UK’s economy, as the increased visa length would bring more than 250,000 high spending tourists to the UK each year.
My final day in Beijing was spent in a number of conferences, meeting investors, developers, entrepreneurs and officials from organisations including Atlantis Investment, Gates Foundation China Bentley Culture Club, Chairman of Commerce, The China Club and The Emperor Club with the purpose of presenting the key activities taking place across the West End. While meeting these prominent decision makers, I highlighted how many international brands have recently opened in the district, along with the Bond Street improvement works beginning in 2017 and the opening of the Elizabeth line (Crossrail) in 2018, expected to bring an additional 60 million visits annually, on top of the 200m we already welcome each year.
From Beijing, I traveled to Hong Kong with David Shaw, our Chairman of the Property Steering Group, Head of the Regent Street Portfolio at The Crown Estate and Chairman of The Pollen Estate, for MIPIM Asia. The week began with an interview on CNBC Asia’s ‘Squawk Box with Bernie Low’, where I discussed the phenomenon of Black Friday, which has grown significantly in the UK over the past few years as well as the increase in shoppers using ‘click-and-collect’. You can view the interview here. Following this, we met with the Consulate General, Andrew Heyn and Jo Hawley, Director of Trade and Investment at the DTI in Hong Kong, to discuss investment opportunities in London’s iconic retail destination for Asian investors.
Whilst at MIPIM Asia, David spoke at the Investment Session on the impact recent political events, such as the Brexit vote and the recent US Presidential election, have had on the property market and how this is likely to affect Asian investors looking to enter the UK, specifically the West End. David also outlined how the district has an annual turnover of $66bn.
The final day of my trip was spent meeting with potential new investors and illustrating some of the many accomplishments of the West End, including the successful Black Friday where sales and footfall rose dramatically over the weekend.