During the worst recession in living memory Team GB and ParalympicsGB have managed to lift the spirits of the nation.
There were many winners, but the short-term casualties of the Games were the retailers, hoteliers and restaurateurs of London’s West End. With all eyes on the Games, and regular visitors staying away, West End bookings declined and the tills fell temporarily silent, while footfall at Westfield Stratford City boomed. For those invested in West End retail, it is a time to remain vigilant, monitor occupier performance and keep a close eye on retailer cashflows.
Return on the £11bn investment
Beyond short-term retail performance issues, a niggling doubt about the London 2012 legacy persists. Was it worth the £11bn price tag? The Olympic Park’s facilities are of exceptional quality, and the infrastructure will revitalise that run-down quarter of East London for a generation. In fact, the seeds of a re-energised community are already germinating. But what about the legacy?
Restoring confidence in the UK
Just 14 months ago, London and the UK grabbed the world’s headlines for the wrong reasons; running battles in the streets, looting, fire-bombing and a democracy under threat. One year later, the UK delivered an exceptional built environment in East London, a transport infrastructure that worked like clockwork and a community invigorated. Tangible success? Yes, but there’s much more. A global audience is once again convinced that, when the chips are down, the people and the businesses of the UK deliver.
Businesses should now focus on attracting foreign investment
Now is not the time to sit back and wait, or spend time mulling over the short-term crisis in London retail. It will be down to UK plc to monetise this enduring legacy by embracing environmental responsibility, building sustainable business communities and making the UK a great place to do business. The true legacy of the Games is that the UK is being viewed in a positive new light. As Lord Coe said at the closing ceremony, “made in Britain” is again a hallmark of quality, innovation and success – and global investors are once again prepared to listen and willing to invest.
This article is part of Asset Class autumn 2012.
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