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Open Letter to Rishi Sunak: Prevent further retail and leisure business failures across Central London

14 09 20 Open Letter to Rishi Sunak from Paul Souber hero

Paul Souber, head of central London retail at real estate advisors Colliers International, has written an open letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, proposing a number of measures to save retail in the capital.

Dear Chancellor,

Measures to prevent further retail and leisure business failures across Central London

I am writing to suggest a number of measures which I believe need to be urgently put in place to prevent further retail and leisure business failures and job losses across London.

By way of background, Colliers International is a leading global real estate advisor and we are actively involved in the London retail and restaurant property market, advising the capital’s leading owners and operators. As a result of our involvement, we are acutely aware of the perilous position the West End and City is currently facing.

With the number of tourist visitors to London having been dramatically reduced by the pandemic and only a fraction of office workers now back at work in London, immediate action needs to be taken to encourage domestic demand from the city’s surrounding catchment area.

By stimulating evening and weekend trading, the capital’s retail and leisure businesses will have the ability to remain viable.

The proposed measures are:

  1. Free public transport and no Congestion Charge in Central London at weekends. In addition, a temporary introduction of free parking after 6pm Monday to Friday should be implemented. This will make it easier and more attractive for people to come to Central London out of working hours and will be vital to supporting the capital’s retail and leisure businesses.

  2. VAT on purchases made in London stores reduced to 5%. This would encourage people to come to London and spend in its stores. This would also have a positive knock-on effect on places to eat and drink. It is a measure which could be rolled out across the UK’s other city centres.

  3. Extension of the current business rates holiday. This is due to come to an end in March of next year but I believe that a return to normalised trading will be so gradual that this support needs to be extended through to the end of 2021, whilst a wholesale review of business rates is undertaken.

The West End’s reopening plan - which has been developed by Westminster Council and the New West End Company - provides a safe and responsible platform for the resumption of retailing and leisure in London but this must be coupled with direct and positive action to stimulate trading.

Without positive measures such as these, the cost to the economy and the fabric of society will ultimately be far higher.

I would be very happy to discuss these measures with your further.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Souber
Head of Central London Retail
Colliers International

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Paul Souber

Co- Head UK & EMEA Retail

Retail Agency - Central London

London - West End

Paul Souber is a highly experienced London retail property expert, and has a particular specialism in the luxury sector.

He advises major London landlords – including The Crown Estate, Grosvenor, The Church Commissioners and Shaftesbury Plc – on how their retail holdings in the capital can be enhanced through leasing and placemaking.

His consultancy also involves advising various leading brands on their property strategy and sourcing the stores which best serve their strategic needs.

During a career in which he has advised on the leasing of more than 1.5m sq. ft. of shopping space, Paul has worked with clients including Yves St Laurent, Roksanda Ilincic, Gina Shoes, Balenciaga, Oliver Bonas, Boux Avenue, Sweaty Betty and Headmasters.

He is Head of London Retail Agency and Co Head of the EMEA Retail Team at Colliers International

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Hannah Zitren

Associate Director

Marketing & Communications


I am responsible for media relations and generating coverage in top tier broadcast and print media. I work across a range of Colliers’ UK & Pan-EMEA business lines advising on their strategic and tactical PR needs.

My role includes:

·         Developing and executing PR plans for the various business lines to help promote their key messages across all aspects of the media - print, broadcast and social.

·          Media evaluation and reporting objectives, targets and successes across the business.

·         Reputation management and crisis management.

·         Media training.

·         Media engagement: setting up meetings with top tier media and various internal spokespeople to continuously expand and build a presence with property and vertical media network.

·         Consistently delivering service excellence, meeting with business heads of a regular basis and trying to influence the research as much as possible to ensure our content has a strong enough news hook.

·         Key campaigns that I work on include MIPIM; MAPIC; REVO; Midsummer Retail Report; IHIF; Cities of Influence in addition to a host of all alternative property sector research reports.

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