Charity Runs in London

Staying healthy has become a primary concern within society and many people are now using this interest to raise money and awareness for numerous charities. There are many charity runs in London, which are available to all demographics, allowing massive amounts of money to be raised for good causes. The charity runs vary in length, beneficiaries and, in some cases, entry requirements, such as fancy dress. Listed below are some of the main running events held in London, in which proceeds are used to benefit charities.

1. Virgin London Marathon

Perhaps the most popular and well publicised charity run held in London, possibly the world, the London Marathon started in 1981 and has grown exponentially since that date. With around 20,000 applicants in its first year, just short of 7,000 were chosen to run the race and not all of these finished. Since the first run, nearly 820,000 people have completed the marathon, with a staggering 36,550 people completing the race in 2010 alone. Due to the high level of entrants and sponsorship, around £500 million has been raised to benefit charities since 1981. Continue reading “Charity Runs in London”

Central London’s Most Exclusive Offices

If you are looking to locate your business in an exclusive area of London, then you will most definitely want to have a look at the Knightsbridge area, as this is one of the prime areas of London. London is an expensive place to relocate to any reason, including for your business needs but it is also the financial hub of the UK, so you will be making money back by being so close to all of the action in the business world.

There are few establishments that can compete with what the offices at 64 Knightsbridge have to offer. These amazing office spaces are located close to the green spaces of Hyde Park. The offices at 64 Knightsbridge have a beautiful old front to their building, adding to the appeal to the building, with a very modern feel to the interior. The building has a beautiful classical façade with a business centre that has modern artworks and the latest up to date business technology. The well equipped office spaces are of a very high standard, with meeting rooms, conference rooms and a large boardroom, everything that you will need to run your business to the high standard that is expected in this business capital.

These office spaces are also fully serviced, with all the supporting technology that you could possible want located onsite, including catering and also partner privileges at the five star Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel.

This exclusive centre is the perfect location for your business to be situated, as with such a prestigious location, it will be easy to impress potential and existing clients with the beautiful surroundings. You could take them for a walk through Hyde Park, to any of the fine dining establishments nearby or to the world famous Harrods store.

Notting Hill is also a very sought after location for the higher end of office location, which was of course made popular by the film of the same name. Ledbury Mews North is situated in the W11 area of London, close to Ledbury Road and Westbourne Grove. This office space is a beautiful example of a traditional mews and is in a nice and quiet location, being situated on a no through road which also has restricted parking, which also allows for easy loading and allows for temporary parking.

Regents Street in Mayfair is also one of the most desirable places to have you business located. There are offices available here to rent which have been recently renovated to the expected very high standard. The modern and highly equipped offices are situated in magnificent Grade 2 listed buildings. Rent available on these highly sought after offices can be paid for between 3 months and 5 years.

Additional information on commercial property, real estate, setting up your first office and renting versus buying office space.

Photography Sightseeing Tours in London

As one of the world’s most photographed and photogenic cities, London, in addition to its many famous visual delights, offers amateur photographers of all levels something else. Keen photographers, however experienced or inexperienced, can choose from the many available photographic sightseeing tours run by local experts. Joining one of these friendly and informal tours can be a very worthwhile thing to do. Not only will they get you to those famous locations without getting you lost, but will also give advice on how best to photograph any subject that catches your eye.

If you’re in, or are going to, London, and have any interest in improving your photography skills and taking real photos of the city that you can be proud of, there are plenty of tours to choose from, including:

London Photo Tours and Workshops

With a name like that, there’s no mistaking what this company offers. In fact, they offer a very diverse listing of tours, such as:

1. South Bank Photography Tour.
The South Bank is a cultural hot spot of London, It’s an ideal location for photographers, not only for its proximity to some interesting buildings, but also for its great views of the River Thames, all the way eastwards to St Paul’s Cathedral. This tour focuses (no pun intended) on technical matters such as exposure settings, panning and composition. The locale offers a wide variety of subject matter, from striking architecture to colourful street entertainers, to the fascinatingly varied river traffic making its way up and down the Thames. (londonphototours.co.uk) Continue reading “Photography Sightseeing Tours in London”

The City of London’s Financial Giants

The City, London’s financial district, is been home to some of the worlds most prominent financial, trading, insurance, legal and religious institutions and is a part of London that, apart from the architecture, has remained almost intact since the Romans settled in 47 A.D. The Square Mile – which actually measures 1.12 square miles, has a modest resident population of around eleven thousand, although its transient working population swells to well over 330,000 every day.

The overall Gross Value Added (GVA) for London represents around 45% of the overall sector at some £52 billion and the sector as a whole contributed tax revenues of £53.4bn.
Of the total employed in the City, 42% or 135,000 are employed in the financial sector (from cityoflondon.gov.uk 2009).

Classed as one of three key financial centres around the world, London plays host to many of the leading banks as well as the Stock Exchange and whilst The City is home to some, the influential banking and financial institutions have also spread into the Canary Wharf area. Only four of the top five UK banks are based in the City the other is in Edinburgh (RBS).

The top four London banks are: HSBC (Canary Wharf), Lloyds (City), Barclays (Canary Wharf) and Standard Chartered (City). Between them these four have market values of ~£240 bn. and assets of ~£5,500 bn.

Their employment numbers are substantial, however it is difficult to obtain exact numbers of how many are employed specifically within the 135,000 in the City of London. For that reason we look at the whole of the UK; HSBC alone has 85,000 employees in the UK, spread around its major brank and city centre network. Lloyds, in which the British Government holds a minority stake, indicates that it employs in excess of 104,000 (2010 figures). Barclays employs 146,000 (as at 2011) and Standard Chartered, 84,000.

Looking at Operating Income and stated gross margins for 2010, each is a substantial business:
HSBC – £12 bn. profit £8.3 bn.
Lloyds – £281 m, (£258 m)
Barclays – £3 bn. (profit not stated)
Standard Chartered – £3.85 bn. (profit not stated)

What is clear is that the banking sector within the UK, let alone the world has gone through an upheaval that is unprecedented and it may take some time to settle into a stable sector again. The British Government is under increasing pressure to return Lloyds to the private sector once more and is looking at many options including the restructuring of the bank into two separate – corporate and personal banking streams. Given their relative financial strength, HSBC, Barclays and Standard Chartered have demonstrated their ability to weather the financial maelstrom despite calls within Government to review and deconstruct the so called bonus culture.

Alongside the major banks, the city is home to the main regulatory body of The Bank of England, an institution to whom the key players look for guidance. It sets the level of interest (Bank Base Rate), currently at 0.5% (for a record three-years), and manages and monitors inflation by intervention in specific sectors as and when required. It is also responsible for the total amount of money flowing through the UK economy and regularly reviews this.

Lloyds, the insurance house, is also established in The City, and home to around fifty of the world’s largest insurance businesses with access to assets in excess of £40,000 bn. to support its infrastructure of risk underwriting and provides cover for every sector of business around the Globe. In excess of 20% of its revenue is derived in the UK.

Finally, the London Stock Exchange – often abbreviated to LSE, is one of the half dozen trading platforms around the world that are seen as the metre by which investors judge the health of commerce. It hosts a number of UK based indices – e.g. the FTSE 100, whereby the value of a business is posted daily in terms of its share price and capitalisation. In sheer scale, the level of activity is huge and in 2010 its market capitalisation was claimed to be £2.27 trillion spread across some 3,000 individual business listings.

Commercial Property Value in the UK Weakened in February

The performance of commercial property in the UK weakened this February according to CBRE’s latest Monthly Index. Total returns for commercial property in the UK fell to 0.1% and capital values fell by 0.4%. The downturn in commercial property performance came in spite of the fact that Central London offices have seen an improvement, with returns up from January, from 0.3% up to 0.5%. The weakening of property valuations covered the three main commercial property market sectors, shopping centres, shops and offices located outside of the Central London area.

On a more positive note, Central London offices have seen renewed growth, which is responsible for offsetting the decline of most parts of the commercial property market. Central London office property values saw an increase of 0.1% for the month.

According to the CBRE’s February 2012 UK Monthly Index survey total returns on all property were 0.1% for the month, with capital values down 0.4%. The retail property market suffered the most in February, providing a return of -0.1%, while industrial property returned 0.4% and offices returned 0.2% overall. Office property values for the rest of the country fell to 0.9% in February.

Rental values showed an improvement over the previous month while retail centres, shops and shopping centres suffered weaker returns, at -0.3%.The report went on to say that a third of commercial property investors have said that London is the most attractive property investment in the EU, ahead of Warsaw by more than 20%.

According to the CBRE’s Senior Analyst, Nick Parker, foreign investors are continuing to target and focus on the UK, and London in particular. Mr Parker said “this was because foreign investors are less constrained by a tight domestic debt market.” He also stated ‘Combine this finding with a healthy skew of respondents who said they intend to increase their overall purchasing activity in 2012 compared to last year, and the picture for the commercial property markets in London and the UK looks quite positive.”

References: Property Magazine and CBRE

The Ten Best Companies to Work for in London

There are a large number of companies to work for in London, and many seem to offer extremely attractive contracts and benefits. Choosing between all of the companies in the capital and making sure that you have made the best choice can be rather tough, especially when you consider all the various aspects such as pay, working environment and benefits. What follows is ten of the best companies to work for in London, most of which have won awards for the excellent packages that they offer their employees.

Shine Communications, which has offices in Islington, is a public relations consultancy agency that was established back in 1998. Shine Communications currently employs just over 50 people and recently won the title of the UK’s Best Small Company to Work For. Shine Communications has a reputation for respecting its staff and treating them as individuals, along with asking their opinions on various aspects of the company’s management. The company offers flexible working hours and an early finish on Fridays, as well as plenty of holidays, especially on special occasions such as their birthdays. The company is also noted for their charity work and competitive salary packages.

Electrical cable supplier Eland Cables is known for its fun and friendly working environment, while special team building exercises are run throughout the year. Eland Cables, which has its corporate head office in Kentish Town, also offers flexible working hours, along with a number of schemes in place to help protect the environment.

The Eurostaff Group recruitment consultancy agency regularly rewards its staff for their hard work with treats such as a weekend in Marrakesh. Around 60 people currently work for this caring company, and staff turnover is just 5%. The company offers a comparatively high salary to their staff as well as perks such as mobile phones and performance related pay. The Eurostaff Group also rewards their employees for working hard with incentives such as trips to Las Vegas and Paris. The Eurostaff Group have offices across Europe and a London base in Southwark.

The Softwire software development company boasts a workforce of 58 people. The happiness and wellbeing of Softwire staff is taken seriously, and the company has even developed an app to monitor general happiness and give instant praise. People who care about their working environment are sure to love working at Softwire.

Goodman Masson, established in Barbican, is a recruitment consultancy company that goes to great lengths to ensure that their staff feel secure by helping them financial in a number of ways. Although the starting salary is already very competitive, the company offers extra bonuses such as helping them to save money on their mortgage payments. Staff also have the option to trade some of their salary for extra holiday time, while staff members who want to purchase a car or make any other type of major purchase will be offered a loan.

The Berkeley Partnership management consultancy company, situated in Chancery Lane, show their appreciation for staff who work hard in a number of different ways. The company features 50 employees and 15 partners. Refreshingly, there is no boss as such, as each of the partners take it in turns to manage different divisions of the company. This helps to ensure that staff are treated fairly, which is reflected by the company’s 10% staff turnover rate.

The Karmarama advertising agency, located in Hammersmith, is perhaps best known for their high profile work for charity, which includes a 24-hour table tennis marathon. While the company’s staff are encouraged to work hard, they also play hard, and the advertising agency provides an onsite fitness centre and games room. Staff who perform well also receive excellent bonuses and other rewards.

The SilverDoor Serviced Apartments
property management company, which has offices in Chiswick, believe in treating each of their 54 members of staff as individuals and goes to great lengths to create a personal image and profile for new employees. Team building exercises are regularly organised and SilverDoor Serviced Apartments ensures that the high profits that are generated by the sale and rental of apartments is shared with their employees.

Having fun at work is one of the main concerns at Mind Candy. The average age of employees at this children’s entertainment company is just 30, and staff are encouraged to tackle their workload in a playful and innovative way. Employees spend their days thinking up new ideas for children’s games and putting them into practice, and this a great place to work for people who are young at heart. Mind Candy’s workspace is in Shoreditch.

Europe’s Tallest Skyscraper – London’s Shard Building

The Shard building, which is located in London Bridge, is the tallest skyscraper in Western Europe. Designed by world renowned Renzo Piano, the structure, which is still under construction, will comprise of ninety five floors. The Shard will be home to high quality office suites, upmarket restaurants, luxury residential apartments and the 5 Star Shangri La Hotel. The building will eventually tower 310 metres (1,017 feet) over South East London and will provide impressive 360 degree panoramic views over the City. The viewing galleries are expected to receive one million visitors a year and people will be able to see as far as Hampstead, Heathrow and the North Downs, up to thirty miles on a clear day.

An estimated 8,000 people will eventually live and work within The Shard and architect Renzo Piano, who co-designed the Pompidou Centre in Paris, sees the building as a ‘Vertical City’. The idea for the concept was taken to Piano more than a decade ago by property developer Irvine Sellar. According to E&T Magazine, Mr Piano has said he wanted to create ‘a shard of glass, a spire tower of angled planes of glass that will reflect light and the changing patterns of the sky so that it will change according to the weather and the seasons’.

In addition to the premium office space, cafes, restaurants, apartments and shops the Shard will also house exhibition and performance space. The highly sought after premium office suites will be located on floors 2-28 and will include conferencing facilities. The five fine dining restaurants will be situated on floors 31-33 and the Shangri La Hotel will be located on floors 34-52, which will have two hundred luxury five star suites and is located on floors 34-52. The exclusive apartments will be situated on floors 53-65 and will be the highest residences in the UK.  The Observatory, which is located on floors 68-72, will house the viewing decks. In addition to the twenty six floors of office accommodation within The Shard, more than fifty five square feet of office and  retail space will be provided, attached to the eastern corner of the building, called London Bridge Place or referred to as ‘the Backpack’.

There has been some criticism of the ambitious project, which began in 2009, which once complete will have cost and estimated £450 million. English Heritage has reportedly said the Shard will obstruct the view of St Paul’s Cathedral as well as the Houses of Parliament. The Shard is due to be completed by May 2012.

Plans for Channel Tunnel Mobile Phone Coverage

It has been reported that passengers using the Channel Tunnel will soon have access to mobile phone coverage in time for the London 2012 Olympic Games. According to reports from The Daily Telegraph newspaper, a technology group established in France has found a way to connect the tunnel to mobile networks. Although a spokesman for Eurotunnel could not confirm this, he did say that a mobile network connection on the Channel Tunnel was being looked into. He told AFP “Customers demand mobile telephones wherever you go these days”.

The Channel Tunnel, which was opened in 1994, links Folkestone to Calais and is the longest undersea tunnel on the globe. Eurostar offers passenger services from London to Paris and Brussels and Eurotunnel provides a vehicle service. The three tunnels are over thirty miles long, most of which runs under the English Channel.

Further Reading on Transportation

London Rail Link
London Underground Workers
Watford Station
London Transport Olympic Games
Survival Guide to Working in London During the Olympics
Business Parking in London

Hollywood Helping London Office Developers

A number of Hollywood film and television studios are providing extra income to struggling office building landlords by using empty offices as film sets. Some of the scenes from the new Batman film ‘The Dark Night Rises’ were filmed in a Croydon office block. Another office building used recently to film a new BBC spy drama was Cannon Place in Cannon Street. The Walbrook Building, located in the City of London, was used in the film Johnny English which starred British actor Rowan Atkinson.

It has been reported that this type of film shoot can bring in between 1,500 and 7,000 pounds daily. In addition a large number of office building rooftops are being used by camera crews, which are in high demand for filming during the London 2012 Olympic Games and the Diamond Jubilee events.

London Fashion Week – A lot of Fuss or Serious Business?

Although some may see London Fashion Week as a vacuous show of vanity it should also be remembered that the fashion industry in London contributes an enormous twenty one billion pounds to the UK economy annually.

Now in its 28th Year, London Fashion Week is a six day event which brings in buyers from across the globe who are expected to place orders topping one million pounds. London Fashion week is also a chance for UK designers to showcase this seasons fashion lines, and can make or break a fashion label.

In addition, the fashion industry in the UK is the creative industry’s largest employer, providing 1.3 million jobs, which accounts for approximately 4.5% of the UK’s workforce.