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Deputy mayor for business pledges support for hospitality at inaugural LCW event

Published:  09 July, 2024

The deputy mayor of London for business was one of a number of senior officials to descend on Diageo’s global HQ yesterday (8 July), where the organisers of London Cocktail Week convened a daylong collaborative event aimed at hearing from the city’s hospitality sector.

Taking place just days after the general election, the inaugural Futureproofing London Bars event encouraged bartenders and business owners operating in London to feedback their concerns to senior officials including representatives from the mayor’s office at City Hall.

In his address to both the trade and the media, deputy mayor of London for business Howard Dawber was keen to stress the importance of hospitality to London’s communities – in particular the nighttime economy.

“Over two million visitors are out and about in London on a typical night between 9pm and midnight… and £1 in every £4 spent in London is spent during nighttime. In terms of just London, the number of people working in nighttime industries has grown by 150,000 since 2017.

“So we’re very much out of recovery from Covid and into growth. The mayor is committed to doing all he can to boost economic prosperity… and to create viable opportunities.”

The event is the first of its kind to be run by Siobhan Payne and Hannah Sharman-Cox, co-founders of LCW (pictured), which is now in its fifteenth year.

It also marks a change in the structure of LCW, which switched to a not-for-profit model in 2023. Wristbands can now be sold directly from participating venues, with 100% of revenues going back to the bars which sold them.

In partnership with Diageo and City Hall, Futureproofing London Bars event also highlighted a number of citywide initiatives. Supported by the mayor of London, Grow London Local is a new ‘one stop shop’ for hospitality businesses looking for advice on how to access financial support, marketing and upskilling staff members. One to one sessions with Grow London Local were available throughout yesterday’s event. Meanwhile, 24 Hour London is a City Hall project which helps boroughs to create and refine their own nighttime strategies. 

Various breakout ‘listening sessions’ ran throughout the day with representatives from these initiatives, alongside faces well-known to the sector, such as Anna Sebastian.

Dawber also shared a plan from the major’s office to create 150,000 new jobs in London over the next five years in sectors such as hospitality. He also addressed the pressing issue of rents rising above the rate of inflation.

As one audience member put it, the landscape of London is changing rapidly due to stricter licensing laws and spiralling rents. Licensing for drinks venues is now harder to come by as the number of general use licences decreased throughout Covid. Opening new venues is much harder than before too. New bars often fold within a year as a result of high rents and business rates, with landlords increasing rents with each new tenure (and thus leading to progressively empty high streets).

Nuno Teles, MD of Diageo GB also drew attention to the importance of the cocktail sector and hospitality not only to the UK market, but globally.

“In terms of penetration, the generation of 18-25 year-olds are drinking as much cocktails as beer, which is very significant. Diageo sells to 80 markets worldwide, and the UK is the second biggest market behind the US. So it’s really important to see us coming together to look into what’s the perspective of our customers and what’s the perspective of our vendors who work on daily basis with our products.”

He continued: “A total of 3.5 million people work in hospitality. It’s really very important that this sector is taken care of.”