Private clubs in London dig deeper after the Covid storm

Nine months after Metro Bank seized control of The Conduit’s Mayfair site due to outstanding debts, the private members club is completing the renovation of the leased building in the heart of Covent Garden, which will open in August.

The clubAs a new member of the London “Club Land” opened in 2018, this week made fun of its 3,000 members through online discussions on human rights issues in China, and then fully opened dining, meeting and working spaces to customers with the following conditions. Adopt a mixed lifestyle Divided into urban and non-local residences.

The Covent Garden website will also feature a bookstore with more than 1,000 books, curated by The Conduit staff and “The Fix”. This is a two-story space where members “meet and exchange ideas” .

Private membership clubs in London have experienced a series of lockdowns and a decline in commuter numbers, as well as retaining foreign hotel staff, including those in Europe who have been restricted by immigration rules implemented since then, in a devastating period. Later, the opening ceremony brought new hope to the private clubs in London. Brexit.

The Conduit will provide a two-story space for members to “meet and exchange ideas” © The Conduit

In an email sent to members in July last year, the 130-year-old club Chelsea Arts Club stated that the crisis had caused “catastrophic damage” to its finances and asked if members would like to Provide some “voluntary financial support”. “.

Of the 103 member clubs in London before the pandemic, 7 including The Conduit had closed. Others include Soho membership club Milk & Honey and The Hospital Club, the latter changed its name to “h Club” to focus on catering to the music and entertainment industries, and closed its sister venue in Los Angeles.

“I bet that, just as humans are very adapted to the current environment, we will return to normal faster than you think. People are eager for the community and want to connect again,” said Paul van Zyl, co-founder The basic membership fee for The Conduit is £1,800 per year.

“We will pay great attention to hygiene, but community and closeness are more valuable than ever. There is a real desire,” he added.

Paul Fanzier

Paul van Zyl: “People yearn for the community and want to connect again” © The Conduit

In addition to the rebirth of The Conduit, there are other glimmers of hope in the club field. Pavilion runs three clubs in London and plans to open a fourth venue in Knightsbridge in the next few weeks, while the Art Club is expanding internationally and plans to open new venues in Los Angeles and Dubai by next year.

a lot of Traditional club survived By giving members a reason to continue paying the annual subscription fee when the venue is closed.Even the most Historical siteOften participate in Zoom tastings, lectures, and family meal delivery activities with older members.

Remy Lyse, chief operating officer of the Mayfair Arts Club, said that during the lockdown period, by providing online activities, it only had about 3% fewer members than in previous years. These activities include breakfast lectures, virtual drawing lessons and membership podcasts.

Will it break even during this period? “It was like this for a few weeks, and not for a few weeks,” Lyse said.

For clubs located in the St. James, Mayfair, and Soho districts and their surrounding areas, which are known for their long-standing member institutions, the biggest challenge now will be slow return to the office, lack of corporate activities and international travel.

Even in the hospitality allow Starting indoors on May 17, London’s passenger flow is still 28% lower than 2019 levels.

Most venues are expected to return to commuters in large numbers as early as September, and until the fear of unknown variants entering the UK subsides, international travel seems unlikely to recover significantly.

Army and Navy Club

Loyal members of the Army and Navy clubs have allowed this 184-year-old institution to survive © Laurence Mackman/Alamy

The Army and Navy Club is a 184-year-old institution that was originally established for members of the armed forces, nicknamed “The Rag”, which stated that 93% of its members remained loyal and agreed to pay their annual membership fees in advance to obtain immediate funding.

Chief Executive Robin Bidgood said that throughout the pandemic, the transaction volume was about one-third of the normal level, and a small number of members used the club as a permanent residence and for necessary business trips.

He added that the company’s event bookings have begun to resume, and the Army Regiment Dinner will be confirmed from September.

Many old clubs with aging members have noticed the rapid expansion and popularity of Soho House. In the past 26 years, Soho House has grown from its original London base to approximately 30 outlets and 100,000 members.

Soho House on Dean Street

In the past 26 years, Soho House has grown from its original London base to approximately 30 branches and 100,000 members © Richard Chivers/View/Alamy

During the pandemic, it invested heavily in membership apps and new offers, such as the “City Without Homes” program, which provides access to online events, discounts, and social networking.

It is planning to be listed in New York and can be valued Up to £3 billion, And new clubs in Austin, Tel Aviv and Rome are preparing to open this year.

Bidgood said that he has been watching the progress of Soho House as the Army and Navy strive to become “the first choice for young audiences.” [rather than] The old and sultry traditional elements of the club, the ancients napping under the newspaper.”

However, he warned that the club must be careful not to become a “five-star hotel with members” because the club’s opportunity is to maintain a personal relationship with its customers.

“There is always a financial perspective, but we are not driven by the creation of a large number of clubs. For me, less is more,” Lyse said. “I’m sure the way things work may be slightly different, but I think there is too much excitement that people will come back.”

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About the Author: Agnes Zang