Areas such as Covent Garden make the City of Westminster one of the UK’s leading boroughs when it comes to retail and culture. (Photo by Alex McBride/Getty Images)

The City of Westminster has launched a new investment service to attract investors to the London borough as it battles with the twin challenges of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, marking the occasion with a hybrid event and expert panel on 29 June 2021.

The panel event was hosted in person and online by City of Westminster Lord Mayor Jonathan Glanz and councillor Matthew Green, who is Westminster’s cabinet member for business, licensing and planning.

Along with Investment Monitor’s editor-in-chief Courtney Fingar, the panel included Allen Simpson, acting CEO of London & Partners; Henry Whorwood, head of research and consultancy at Beauhurst; Professor Ute Stephan of King’s College Business School; and Charles Oak, general manager of The Londoner Hotel, a new investor in the borough.

The new Westminster Investment Service will include a concierge service, “a single entry point for businesses to access support from the council”, explained Green, adding that the service will also reach out to “companies across the borough to better understand their sector and the business opportunities associated with that sector”, to help them “shape and tailor our services and further build our business ecosystem”.

London calling to investors

What makes the City of Westminster stand out from other investment destinations? According to Simpson, speaking at the launch event, the London borough has a few things to boast about.

There is something quite unique about Westminster, which is that it is the centre of government, it is the centre of culture, it is the centre of commerce, and it is the centre of investment capital. Allen Simpson, London & Partners

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“There is something quite unique about Westminster, which is that it is the centre of government, it is the centre of culture, it is the centre of commerce, and it is the centre of investment capital,” Simpson said.

In line with this, the City of Westminster has a diversified selection of area-based clusters, from the West End’s arts and culture sector – estimated to be worth £4.8bn ($6.64bn) in 2018 – to creative industries in Soho, medicine in Harley Street, and entertainment around Piccadilly and Leicester Square, to name but a few.

However, being “the ultimate city centre location”, Fingar said during the event, introduces the challenge of keeping investment, as smaller locations are trying to “pull some of the activity, talent and action and investment out of the city centre”.

Building back better, Westminster-style

With the Covid-19 pandemic increasing the popularity of remote working, attracting and locating talent has changed, as workers are able to work from multiple locations, explained Fingar, but the pandemic has also given a push to the importance of sustainability and ESG.

We want to make Westminster the most business-friendly borough in London. Matthew Green, City of Westminster council

These have been “important to companies for a while, but in the era of building back better, it is now a top-level priority”, said Fingar.

Things look promising in this respect for Westminster, as it leads all London boroughs on future low-carbon and renewable energy jobs, according to the Westminster Investment Service, as well as having the largest number of start-ups in the UK with 6,596 new businesses established from February 2019 to September 2020.

“We want to make Westminster the most business-friendly borough in London, offering investors not only millions of customers in consumer growth areas but also giving companies access to one of the world’s most diverse and talented workforces,” said Green.