Merton Best Business Awards 2022 Launches

Merton Best Business Awards to launch at New Wimbledon Theatre this May.

The 2022 Merton Best Business Awards will officially launch at New Wimbledon Theatre on Tuesday 24 May, with a new set of categories to celebrate and recognise businesses that have not only survived the events of the past two years, but have shown resilience, excellence, innovation and best practice in the borough.

The launch event will provide guests with an ideal opportunity to meet past winners, sponsors and network with other Merton businesses – as well as a very special behind-the-scenes tour of the theatre.

Guests will also be inspired as previous winners Lu-Ma café (who walked away with three impressive awards last year) talk about how their win has made a real difference to their business. Whatever the size or function of your business, there is a category for you.

The awards this year include:

  • Best Enterprising Business: for businesses that are demonstrating true entrepreneurial spirit, market-leading growth and outstanding leadership.
  • Best New Business: for those that have started in the last two years and are really getting noticed for what they do.
  • Employer of the Year: for businesses that invest in their employees and know the benefits that arise from attracting, developing and retaining staff.
  • Best Independent Business: to showcase some of the best independent businesses in the borough and to celebrate the wealth of colour and creativity they bring to Merton.
  • Champions of Change: for businesses that have made exceptional contributions, influenced, or brought cultural change to support and champion diversity, equality, and inclusion in the workplace.

Members of the public will still have a chance to vote for their favourite business that is offering outstanding customer service. This award is truly the customer’s voice!

Diana Sterck, Chief Executive of Merton Chamber of Commerce and the organiser of the Merton Best Business Awards, said: 

“Over the past 10 years, the Merton Best Business Awards have become a key event in the business calendar. I’m delighted that they are back for 2022. We’ve come through so much together and it’s time to celebrate that.”

Find out about the 2022 awards here and book your place to join the launch event here.

The Merton Best Business Awards are brought to you by Merton Chamber of Commerce – the largest area-based Chamber of Commerce in London, that has a reputation for understanding business, and supporting sustainable business growth.

Robotic Assisted Surgery Comes To Wimbledon Through Local Partnership

Leading orthopaedic and sports medicine group Fortius Clinic, has partnered with Spire St Anthony’s, a hospital local to Wimbledon and the South West, to now offer patients in the town centre access to robotic-assisted surgery for joint replacements.

Fortius Clinic opened a new state-of-the-art clinic on Worple Road in September 2020, offering rapid access to orthopaedic and sports injury treatment for residents living and working in Wimbledon and the surrounding areas. The clinic was limited to consultations and radio-imaging but through this new partnership, a Joint Replacement Centre has been opened, to enable surgeries for local patients.

Hip and knee replacements, using the latest ground-breaking robotic technology, will be available for patients in and around Wimbledon, South London and Surrey. The cutting-edge Mako robotic technology transforms the way joint replacement surgery is performed, enabling surgeons to have a more predictable surgical experience with increased accuracy.

The Stryker Mako system facilitates higher level alignment and positioning during surgery, resulting in shorter recovery times and reduced post-operative pain, helping patients get back to doing what they love. Fortius Consultant Hip and Knee Surgeon Simon Bridle, who performed the first total hip replacement using the Mako at Spire St Anthony’s Hospital, said “hip and knee replacements are life-transforming procedures and as surgeons we want our patients to have the optimal outcome. Robotic-assisted joint replacement surgery allows the surgeon greater ability to tailor the operation to the patient’s individual needs. The technology assists the surgeon to achieve greater surgery accuracy which is directly related to the outcome for the patient.”

Jim McAvoy, CEO of Fortius Clinic said: “We are delighted to have partnered with Spire St Anthony’s Hospital to provide this technology to our patients who live in South West London. The hospital is close to our recently opened diagnostic and outpatient clinic in Wimbledon and working with the team at Spire St Anthony’s allows us to offer our world-class care and first-class service to a wider network of patients.”

Richard Coggings, Hospital Director at Spire St Anthony’s Hospital said: “My team and I are very excited to commence this partnership, as there is a great synergy between our two organisations, which will benefit our local community” The centre is open to both patients with private medical insurance, or those wishing to pay for treatment themselves.

Wimbledon Is Working

Time & Leisure Magazine

Firstly, thank you for the great response to my first blog. This month, while it remains challenging to find much to feel optimistic about globally, I have been encouraged in Wimbledon by our situation locally. Here are five recent encouraging experiences that have led me to feel that things are changing for the better here in the town centre: 

  1. The Return of the Business Community

    I recently attended a test event ahead of the official launch of Bombay Delight, a stunning new Indian Restaurant located opposite the Polka Theatre on The Broadway. The Love Wimbledon team has been delighted to work with Ajay, the Manager of the restaurant, from when it was still a building site several months ago and have made introductions for him into the wider Wimbledon community. Seeing so many people from Wimbledon’s business community reconnecting over a delicious Indian meal was a great reminder that bringing people together is an essential part of what BIDs can do – and a great new Indian restaurant is just what we need here. 

  2. Award-winning Culture and Hospitality

    Now in their tenth year, the Time & Leisure Food & Culture Awards are a really important recognition of excellence across South London. I was hugely impressed that 17 of our venues received awards and commendations from over 10,000 votes cast, including Diba (Local Restaurant of the Year), The Alexandra (Best Pub), New Wimbledon Theatre (Best Entertainment Venue) and Leon, who won the Wimbledon Town Centre People’s Choice Award, sponsored by Love Wimbledon. I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited the winners to give them their certificates, and it’s so rewarding to see their pride and delight in winning them. We are blessed with a really diverse and impressive food and culture offering in Wimbledon.

  3. A Safe and Thriving Night-Time Economy

    Last Friday, I went on patrol from 10pm – 2am with the Merton Street Pastors. The Street Pastors receive funding from Love Wimbledon and are a team of Christian volunteers who assist with our work in keeping the night-time economy safe, by offering reassurance and safety to those who need it, and making sure the town is cleared of glass bottles and other hazards. Our Footfall data suggests Wimbledon may have had its busiest Friday for at least 2 years last week, with all the pubs we visited reporting successful evenings. While spirits were definitely high, while we were on patrol we encountered no significant issues or trouble, which was reassuring to see. The Street Pastors are part of a sophisticated local intelligence network Love Wimbledon co-ordinates for the night-time economy with the Met Police and our hospitality businesses, which includes a Town Link Radio network and the Disc online intelligence system, which identifies and holds photographs of known individuals who could potentially cause trouble to ensure we remain on the front foot in dealing with such matters.

  4. The Piazza – Hearts and Markets

    For Valentine’s Day we tested our first Piazza activation of the year, with our large wooden heart installation. This proved to be a big hit, with partners, families and pet owners stopping to make the most of the opportunity to share their love. We were particularly impressed to discover that Storm Eunice couldn’t take it down either, it truly is an enduring love! Thanks to an overwhelmingly positive response to our heart installation, we have worked with the supplier to ensure a sustainable future for this feature and we have kept all the materials (plus opted out of polyester planting), which will be reused again on The Piazza next year.

    Following on from this, on Saturday we launched our first Market weekend of the year on The Piazza. I was there for the opening at 11am, and it was great to see so many loyal stallholders returning as well as new faces. Popular community choir, Rock Choir, attracted a crowd, creating a buzzy atmosphere for visitors. Markets are an important community asset. They create a public gathering place, provide economic support for small businesses and local craftspeople and crucially boost business for retailers in proximity. The Institute of Place Management reported in its Market Matters report that markets increase town centre footfall by up to 25%, and 55-71% of those attending also spend money in other shops while visiting. We have exciting plans for our monthly markets for the remainder of 2022, including a sustainability themed market, two Friday Food markets and integrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. I hope to see you there. 

  5. Sustainable Placemaking

    Last weekend I attended the Centre Court Shopping Centre exhibition, where Romulus, its new owners, outlined some of their ambitious plans around sustainability and supporting a circular economy. With beehives, a rooftop urban farm of 3 greenhouses, mushroom farming from coffee granules and rainwater harvesting, the new focus on sustainability at Centre Court is just part of the cutting-edge thinking being applied to deliver what will be a bold and transformative reimagination. We share this sustainable vision for Wimbledon Town Centre, which is why it’s one of our strategic priorities for the next five years.

Once again, I’ve enjoyed meeting more of our businesses this month, together with local councillors, our Member of Parliament and other stakeholders. Please do get in touch if we haven’t spoken yet – I am keen to meet as many levy payers as possible before we officially start our third BID term on 1 April 2022! 

Craig Hurring, CEO of Love Wimbledon BID.

Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF)

Merton Council have emailed all businesses in Wimbledon Town Centre that they believe are eligible for Covid-19 Additional Relief Funding.

This includes a reduction on your business rates bill for 2021/22 and is targeted at businesses that were not eligible for the Expanded Retail Relief or the Nursery Discount in 2021/22.

The council has been granted £4,787,440 to distribute to qualifying businesses. To qualify for the support your business needs to meet the following criteria:

  1. Not received relief or would not have been eligible for the Extended Retail Discount (covering Retail, Hospitality and Leisure) or the Nursery Discount.
  2. The property has not been unoccupied (other than hereditaments which have become closed temporarily due to the government’s advice on COVID-19, which should be treated as occupied for the purposes of this relief)
  3.  Have been adversely affected by the pandemic and have been unable to adequately adapt to that impact.

We estimate that the relief for business’ 2021/22 bill could be 10%. If you have already paid your rates bill in full, the council will transfer the credit to your 2022/23 bill.

It is hoped that applications will go live on Friday 9 March 2022 and will be open for a three week period. Applications will close on Thursday 29 March 2022 at 5.00pm.

To apply for this relief you will need to complete an online application using the following link www.merton.gov.uk/coronavirus/business/grants/carf

If you think that your business may be eligible for this funding, but has not been contacted by Merton Council, then please email BRGrants@merton.gov.uk

CEO Update: February 2022

Hello, I thought that since I am new in this role, and with Helen leaving such a great legacy after 10 years in this position, it might be helpful for Love Wimbledon’s businesses to find out a bit more about me, and for me to keep you updated on some of the areas our BID delivery team is working on. I’ve been here in the post for almost one month now, and it has been a frantic start to 2022, with a lot for me to learn about the work the BID has delivered in the last 10 years in Wimbledon.

So, a bit about me. I’ve been working in BIDs now for almost five years, having previously worked in South Bank in Central London, where I was responsible for promoting South Bank as one of London’s leading destinations for both visitors and businesses. I played a key role in a renewal ballot that delivered a 99% Yes vote and believe very passionately in the importance of working with businesses to establish a thriving business community. Before this, I’ve worked in a number of different sectors, including financial services, education and professional membership bodies, building up a range of skills and experiences that I hope will set me in good stead for a role as rich, varied and interesting as this one! Outside of work my passions include music, books and sport and I have two daughters who keep me entertained and occupied.

While I am not a Wimbledon resident, I don’t live very far away at all, and I’ve been regularly using the town and visiting friends here for many years, seeing how it has changed in the process. I’m now looking forward to really understanding more about Wimbledon in this role. It’s clear that we face many challenges together as we begin to recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic, but I firmly believe Wimbledon has everything a leading 21st Century destination should offer its residents, visitors and businesses – thriving culture, new retail experiences, excellent transport links, a great range of hospitality choices, events and experiences, green spaces and a rich heritage. I am very keen as we begin to recover to explore how we make more of this moving forward.

We are now in the last two months of the final year of the BID’s second term. My focus until April will be on ensuring the team are ready for the start of the third term, and to prepare our budgets and plans for 2022, and the broader strategic vision for the 5-years ahead. I will discuss this with you as it evolves, and over the coming months will look in more detail at the core themes outlined in the Business Plan on which levy payers gave us an overwhelming vote of support back in October – to create better spaces, places and experiences; to promote and support your businesses; and to become greener and more sustainable.

Finally, a big thank you to everyone I have met, corresponded with or seen on a virtual call so far. I would love to meet as many businesses as possible before we begin the third term of the BID, but understand there are still challenges that our office sector in particular are addressing in terms of how they are working currently. Many thanks too to all those people I’ve met so far on my walkabouts with Tom, our Ranger, and I will be continuing these as often as I can, as there is no better way to understand the reality of how a town works than seeing how it deals with issues in its public realm, such as waste, graffiti and security. If you would like to meet personally though, please do get in touch – craigh@lovewimbledon.org

Thanks for reading, and here’s to better days ahead in 2022 – I’m really looking forward to working with everyone here in Wimbledon.

Craig Hurring,
CEO at Love Wimbledon

Multiple Wins for Wimbledon at Food & Culture Awards 2022

A huge congratulations to the 17 businesses in Wimbledon Town Centre, who have received shining recognition in Time & Leisure’s Food & Culture Awards 2022, putting Wimbledon firmly on the map as a destination for dining, cultural events and theatres. 

This year marked the 10th year of the Time & Leisure Food & Culture awards, which are dedicated to celebrating world-class food, drink and culture in South West London and Surrey, as well as recognising the talented and passionate people who make up our hospitality and arts industries.

Over 10,000 votes were cast and ambassadors for this year’s awards included top chefs Adam Byatt and Marcus Wareing. Amongst the many local businesses nominated, five venues across Wimbledon Town Centre were winners in their categories. Hailed for their authentic Persian dishes, Diba won both ‘Local Restaurant Of The Year’ and ‘Best Delivery/Takeaway’.

 

Diba – winners of Local Restaurant Of The Year and Best Delivery/Takeaway awards

 

Lively local The Alexandra was awarded ‘Best Pub’ for its commitment to the community – namely its free Christmas dinner for anyone who would usually be alone on Christmas Day. Wimbledon Bookfest were winners of ‘Cultural Experience of the Year’ for delivering incredible live events with top guest speakers, despite the constraints of the pandemic, and New Wimbledon Theatre won ‘Favourite Entertainment Venue’.

 

New Wimbledon Theatre – winners of Favourite Entertainment Venue award

 

“We are thrilled to win this and to be nominated for Cultural Experience of the Year and Favourite Theatre Show after what has been such a difficult couple of years for our industry. We are so pleased the local community have supported and returned to the theatre, as us we reopened and brought the theatrical sparkle back to SW19.”

– New Wimbledon Theatre

 

Love Wimbledon sponsored the ‘Wimbledon Town Centre People’s Choice’ award, which was won by Leon, the health-conscious food group that impressed readers. Lebanese restaurant Grilandia followed closely behind as the highly commended choice, with Polka Theatre, CMYK bar and Diba also being commended. Other businesses recommended in this category included Dip & Flip, Kokoro, Lu-Ma Café, The Alexandra and Bills.

We are delighted to see so many of our local businesses in Wimbledon recognised for their excellence by the community, and hope that more people are encouraged to explore the best of their neighbourhood, trying out local favourites across the town and high street.

See the full list of winners here.

Love Wimbledon Board Welcome New CEO

We are delighted to announce that Craig Hurring has been appointed as the new CEO of the Love Wimbledon BID. Craig brings with him a wealth of experience. He previously worked for South Bank Employers’ Group, an organisation which has led the transformation of London’s South Bank and who are also the delivery agent for South Bank BID. He has built up a highly regarded career in both not-for-profit and for-profit businesses offering extensive people and stakeholder management experience. We are sure Wimbledon businesses and stakeholders will give Craig a big Wimbledon welcome as you meet him over the coming weeks.

Craig started the post on 4th January with a handover from Love Wimbledon’s previous CEO, Helen Clark Bell.

Craig Hurring, CEO, Love Wimbledon BID commented:

“I’m thrilled to have been appointed as the new Chief Executive for Love Wimbledon BID. Helen and the team have delivered an outstanding renewal ballot result, and we now have a five-year window of opportunity to work together to ensure Wimbledon recovers from the pandemic as a thriving, safe, clean and sustainable destination for businesses, visitors and residents. I’m looking forward to applying everything I have learned working with South Bank BID and really getting to know the BID area and its businesses as soon as I can.”

Helen Clark Bell, former CEO added:

“I am very proud of the reputation that Love Wimbledon BID has built since its inception nearly 10 years ago, confirmed by the recent strong mandate from the business community in the recent renewal ballot. It has been an incredible and enjoyable journey with a great staff team and supportive Board of Directors and I am delighted to now be handing over the reins to Craig to lead the BID forward.”

We wish Helen all the best and thank her for all her energy and professionalism over the last ten years, she has promised to stay in touch.

The board and I wish everybody a happy and prosperous 2022 and thank you again for supporting the Love Wimbledon BID.

Paul Harvey, Chair of Love Wimbledon BID and Managing Partner, Morr & Co.

If you need to get in contact with Craig, his email is Craigh@lovewimbledon.org or call the Love Wimbledon team on 020 8619 2012.

Wimbledon in 2021: A Year in Review

In what was a challenging year, Wimbledon Town Centre showed an impressive level of resilience in 2021, with the community and businesses coming together to do their part to support the town’s recovery, offering hope for what lies ahead in 2022. We look back to the last year, reflecting on positive moments for the town and Wimbledon businesses.

Businesses saw the opportunity to innovate

As the outside became the new inside, businesses continued to adapt, with restaurants refurbishing their outdoor spaces, café’s integrating wellbeing into their service and gyms offering virtual classes. The Polka reopened after an £8.5m refurbishment creating a destination theatre, café and play area – a very welcome addition to the town. New Wimbledon Theatre also returned, after its longest closure in history (including World War 2), with a refreshing take on Aladdin.

Polka Theatre redevelopment 

Town Centre transformation begun 

Many new businesses opened in the town in 2021, including a Zero-waste store and Queens Rd Market in Centre Court Shopping Centre.    Investment in the town centre continued as a  range of new developments began, including Centre Court Shopping Centre, where the new owners and managers Romulus have committed to transforming the inward-looking, 1990s retail environment into a lively, open space to meet friends or colleagues, shop, relax, eat and drink, work or work out. We have created a new page on our website of some of the more significant planning applications to keep businesses appraised. The redevelopment of YMCA is currently well under way, creating a modern, community facility and homes in the Wimbledon.

CGI of transformation plans for Centre Court Shopping Centre

Placemaking continued

Hartfield Walk was unveiled – a reimagined space to sit, enjoy delicious street food and an eco-message. Recognising the need for more seating in the town centre, this project came to fruition at a time where more residents were exploring their local area. The space features an amalgamation of planting, seating, market kiosks, lighting, environmental games and art, all carefully designed to inspire local people of all ages to go greener, through references to combatting air pollution and climate change. 

Wimbledon’s rainbow crossing got a re-vamp too, to feature a more inclusive design. More planting has been introduced to enhance the look and feel of the town, including planters on the Piazza, bedding outside the entrance of Centre Court and a new vertical planting system integrated onto a lampost.

King Falafel food kiosk in Hartfield Walk

Events returned in a different way

All of our usual events were adapted to ensure that they could be delivered safely, and still provide energy, fun and entertainment for all – Big Screen Tennis, Summer Sit Out, Wimbledon Winter Weekender,  Markets (Autumn Arts, Monthly and Christmas), plus outdoor interactive trails such as our Easter Egg pavement hunt, Halloween Hocus Pocus Trail and Spot The Golden Reindeer trail. Local residents, passers-by and businesses all got involved and it could be said that the festive spirit truly returned.

 Wimbledon Winter Weekender

There was certainly no lack of things to do in Wimbledon, with international film and musical festivals, a pop-up cinema, comedy clubs and live music nights, being just some of the activities that were hosted in the town centre.

Business events also returned, as we held our first joint face-to-face lunchtime networking event for local employees with Merton Chamber and sponsored the Merton Best Business Awards (MBBAs), highlighting business resilience over the last 18 months.

Love Wimbledon presents an award at the MBBAs

We’re confident that 2022 will be a year of further evolution for Wimbledon Town Centre and that there are real grounds for optimism. As office workers start to return and businesses are open we will continue to build on promoting your businesses, improving the town centre and developing sustainable solutions for the future. We wish businesses all the best.

The Love Wimbledon Team

New Financial Business Support for Coronavirus

 

The Government has announced additional support schemes for businesses most recently impacted by Coronavirus, which include:

  • One-off grants of up to £6,000 for businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors
  • Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF) for businesses affected by the pandemic but that are ineligible for existing support linked to business rates
  • Reintroduction of the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS) for businesses with fewer than 250 employees, up to two weeks per employee
  • Discretionary funding will also be made available to support other businesses

Funding and grants will be administered by Merton Council. Information is available on their website, with additional details to be announced in the upcoming weeks here.

We know this is yet another difficult time for businesses, in what should otherwise be a robust trading period. Love Wimbledon is supporting the ‘Business Booster Campaign‘, calling on central Government to provide: business rates relief, an extension to VAT reduction and additional grants up to £15K for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.

Please do get in touch with the Love Wimbledon team if we can assist you in any way.

Business Booster Campaign

In light of Plan B and the effect it is having on our hospitality, leisure and retail sectors, Love Wimbledon BID is joining hundreds of BIDs around the country and calling on the Government to deliver a #BusinessBooster to support venues, pubs, clubs, restaurants, leisure services and shops.

The hospitality sector is vital to our economic recovery and the current measures in place do not reflect the current concerns faced by businesses.

We are calling on Government to:

  • Provide Business Rates Relief
    Offer businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors 100% Business Rate Relief for up to and including 31st March 2022 [no cap]. After which, we call on the Government to support the recovery by providing businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a 50% Business Rate Relief from 1st April 2022 to 30th June 2022 [no cap]. The current package of 25% Business Rate Relief was designed for an open economy, post-Covid. The rise of the Omicron variant, increased restrictions and their impact on hospitality, leisure and retail, require a response from Government that mirrors lockdown support.
  • VAT Extension
    Extend the current VAT reduction for the hospitality sector of 12.5% through to 31st March 2023 to allow the sector to respond and support the re-emergence of the UK economy. The current rate of 12.5% allows businesses to achieve cost savings and most importantly of all for the economy and consumer confidence, not to pass the increased cost on allowing for the economy to recover once more in Spring 2022.
  • Provide Grants
    Introduce grants up to £15,000 by rateable value to businesses within the hospitality, retail and leisure sector to enable them to survive the festive and New Year trading period, plus the impending rent quarter date of 25th December 2021. The quoted £250 million in unspent grants is not consistent in level and would place disproportionate pressure on business, simply because of their location. Vast swathes of businesses would simply not receive a penny.

Thank you to Croydon BID, BID Foundation, British BIDs, ATCM, British Beer & Pub Association, UKHospitality and Night Time Industries Association who are the campaign founders.

Find out more here.