An open letter to Sadiq Khan: Supporting London’s hospitality sector

Sam Martin urges Mayor Sadiq Khan to address London's hospitality sector challenges and advocate for greater investment and support from the next government

An open letter to Sadiq Khan: Supporting London’s hospitality sector

Dear Sadiq Khan,

Congratulations on securing a historic third term as the Mayor of London. Your leadership comes at a pivotal time for London, especially for its businesses. I write to you with a deep concern for the state of the cities hospitality sector—a vital industry facing immense challenges. As a key driver of our economy, its health is crucial to the overall well-being of the capital.

Inflation has had the hospitality sector caught between a rock and a hard place. On one side, businesses are facing rising costs across their supply chains and operations. On the other side, consumers’ finances are under significant pressure, which will likely affect the amount they spend at takeaways, restaurants, pubs, bars, and live venues.

Allowing London’s hospitality businesses to, not only protect but to innovate and expand their ventures, we need greater investment. Inflation falling should be conducive to increasing investor interest in our city, especially if that decline is coupled with falling interest rates in the near future – with many restaurant and pub owners currently needing to direct money that could be going toward investment instead into paying the bills.

Meanwhile, staffing issues have become a persistent headache for the sector. At the end of 2023, there were 112,000 vacant hospitality jobs, up from 89,000 before the pandemic, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Despite these economic headwinds, the hospitality sector remains resilient. The rate of closures has begun to slow, falling from eight sites a day in 2023 to four a day in the first quarter of 2024, as reported by the latest Hospitality Marker. However, this is still too many, and more can, and needs to be done. 

Supporting growth, investment, and development

I commend your Culture and Community Spaces at Risk and Let’s Do London initiatives. Any attempt to highlight the crucial role of hospitality, leisure, and tourism in the capital should, of course, be welcomed.

With a third term secured and a general election on the way, I encourage you to use your position to call upon the next government to recognise and prioritise the crucial cultural, economic, and social value of the hospitality industry within London, and across the UK, ensuring businesses have the support they need.

Making investment attractive will play a vital role here. A key element here will be to use your planning powers to support cultural organisations in accessing space in appropriate locations, as well as providing advice and support to the organisations themselves.

Additionally, a fruitful economy relies on a dynamic labour market, and skills development is essential for sharpening our brightest talents within the hospitality industry as with any. Without the right training, those looking for work cannot fulfil these needs.

I urge you to advocate, and support financially where possible, for better training opportunities. This is crucial, ensuring our domestic workforce can compete with overseas applicants for the best roles, thus supporting the operations of London’s businesses.

Indeed, while visa sponsorship remains necessary, overreliance on it highlights the shortcomings in domestic skills cultivation and talent retention. Cultivating local talent alongside bringing in the best overseas prospects is a formula for success both domestically and globally.

The hospitality sector is more than just an economic contributor; it is the heartbeat of our communities. It brings people together, fosters local culture, and improves the quality of life in our city.

I look forward to seeing your continued support and action toward revitalising London’s hospitality sector.

Sam Martin
Sam Martin

Share via
Copy link