Interview by Mark Ferguson
What does your role as CEO for the King’s Road and Knightsbridge Partnership BIDs involve?
This role involves bringing the business and non-business communities together under one vision and plan for both the King’s Road and Knightsbridge destinations.
Our job is to connect the people who live and work in these areas, the property owners and the politicians, and continue to deliver destinations everyone can be proud of.
I’m incredibly fortunate to be representing two of the most iconic areas of London. King’s Road is the spiritual home of British creativity, risqué style and excitement. It has an abundance of independent shops, galleries and restaurants.
Knightsbridge, already renowned on the global stage for luxury retail, has so much more to offer with its exceptional neighbourhood that includes culture, green spaces and a vast array of dining options and award-winning spas.
What can the King’s Road and Knightsbridge BIDs ultimately achieve?
These BIDs are vital in supporting local businesses and protecting the high street, particularly as our local economy continues to recover from the effects of the pandemic, and helping those who live, work and shop here cope with the pressures brought about by the cost-of-living crisis.
BIDs are a great way of bringing the community together, along with businesses and landlords, and securing future investment for the wider area.
What’s your day-to-day work like and what strategic long-term challenges are the BIDs facing?
We’re working closely with key stakeholders and community members, ranging from local residents through to politicians to discuss our plans.
Post-pandemic, the King’s Road area has managed to bounce back more quickly than Knightsbridge. This is partly because of a loyal, local community, but also owing to the hard work put in to creating a sense of place where people want to come and spend time. Our ongoing challenge is to not lose momentum, and continue to deliver experiences and initiatives that excite people and ultimately drive footfall and spend.
With Knightsbridge the challenges are more acute. The residents and politicians came forward wanting to preserve and protect the area. The Brompton Road sits right on the boundary between the two boroughs, which causes some challenges in creating a focus and a coordinated approach for the district. There is also a tenant mix which suffers from fragmented ownership. The Knightsbridge Partnership has brought all stakeholders, residents, and landowners together with a joint sense of purpose.
A key priority we are determined to fix is commercial waste. Our new Head of Place, Rebecca Handley, has already set up a task force that includes officers from Kensington, Chelsea, and Westminster to agree the best way forward.
How are you delivering the BIDs’ vision for supporting member businesses?
Most importantly we listen before acting. We’ve worked in partnership with our members to agree and devise our plan. We are also starting to deliver on that plan and make a positive difference.
Our partners have told us that safety and security is their number one priority, so we set up the Street Team across both BIDs immediately. They are already having a significant impact resulting in a 10% reduction in anti-social behavior and crime since being in place.
What are the BIDs doing to encourage shoppers this Christmas?
Christmas is always something to look forward to and in the retail calendar it’s one of the most important periods of the year.
On King’s Road, we’ll have the Chelsea Lights Switch-On on 19th November. This will probably be one of the most spectacular events you’ll see in London this year, and for the first time ever King’s Road will be closed to traffic for a full day of family activities.
We’ll also be extending the Fine Food Market and there will be a Santa’s grotto, Santagram, reindeer, sleigh rides and a host of music throughout the day. It will be fantastic.
In Knightsbridge we will have the first street-wide Christmas lights to complement what Harrods and Harvey Nichols are doing with their own buildings.
One example is The Fabulous World of Dior, a spectacular presentation illuminating the hallowed halls of the legendary Harrods department store. This offers an exceptional experience, combining the charm of the English spirit with French luxury and art de vivre refinement.
Tell us something that personally amazes you about the King’s Road and Knightsbridge?
It amazes me that the mini skirt was born on the King’s Road. Fashion pioneer Mary Quant ushered in the era of the mini skirt and hot pants when she opened Bazaar at 138a King’s Road back in 1955. In the 70s Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren opened the infamous boutique, Let it Rock at 430 King’s Road which was part of the new punk era.
My favourite thing about Knightsbridge is watching the Household Cavalry exercise their horses in the morning. We’re so lucky to have the barracks on our doorstep. It’s wonderfully British, and such an important part of the Knightsbridge’s heritage.