Different look to Square Mile for returning office workers 


When City slickers bring back the lunch time bustle and the rush hour to the Square Mile after the pandemic traders will be delighted to see them.

The City normally welcomes more than half-a-million workers every week day – many of them arriving by public transport and keen to spend their disposable income close to the office at a range of shops close by.

Sadly the pandemic has wreaked damage on some of the high street’s best loved businesses and some shops will be missing.

Amongst the casualties is Topshop – much loved by office workers popping in to the store at New Change to get their fashion fix.

And Miss Selfridge, another business in the Arcadia stable, will also be missing.

The brands were bought by online only fashion firm Asos after Arcadia went into administration last year. However, Asos did not agree to take on the shops, concentrating on an online fashion offer only.

City slickers will no longer be able to pop into a branch of shirt makers TM Lewin on normally busy Ludgate Circus when they return to the office but the company is still selling its upmarket clothes online.

NOW READ: New Covid Business Recovery Fund will support Square Mile firms 

The company’s 66 stores closed after it went into administration. Its current owner Torque Brands bought back the online business.

And visitors to the City might also miss some other businesses – including those whose lease was up for renewal.

The City is home to 24,000 businesses – and attracts 540,000 workers every weekday.

And the City of London Corporation has launched a £50m business recovery fund to support firms throughout the Square Mile.

Tijs Broeke who represents the ward of Cheap based in the heart of the City said: “Yes, the Square Mile will change, but businesses will bounce back. I’m confident we will see a strong recovery, there is lots of optimism, but return will be gradual and the City will look different.

“Speaking to City workers in my ward over the last few weeks it is clear many are keen to reconnect with colleagues and go back to the office when it is safe to do so. Perhaps we will see more hybrid working, but social interaction and team work remain extremely important.”

And he said whilst the pandemic has claimed casualties “shops and restaurants around Cheapside are already preparing to reopen when the lockdown rules change in April.”

He said restaurants are gearing up for the new al fresco dining policy in the City.

“We are seeing the local business community coming together in the City. The £50m City Recovery Fund supporting small and independent businesses is a good example, or the recently introduced City Gift Card scheme to encourage people to spend locally, which was launched by the Cheapside Business Alliance and other local business improvement districts.”

He said one large City firm is planning to pre-load City Gift Cards with £100 per employee to help kick start spending when they return.

“This is a great example of how companies can make a difference by supporting local shops and hospitality and give a boost to their staff after an extremely challenging year for everyone,” he added.

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