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  • - Look, I don't know about you,

  • but I'm a little bit frustrated these days

  • and that's because I'm watching my city, London,

  • the city I love, the city I spent the last 20 years in

  • really go down the tubes

  • and I'm seeing the lifeblood of this incredible city,

  • the small and medium size enterprises, the SMEs,

  • that were, they really, they account for 99%

  • of the business that's done here,

  • I'm seeing them going bankrupt,

  • them not being supported by the government

  • and it's really frustrating me.

  • And so what I decided to do is today,

  • I want to go out and meet with one of them.

  • He's actually a guy that owns some wine bars here in London

  • and I want to talk about what he's experiencing

  • and what he thinks that

  • we can do to get business back on track

  • and get London back to work

  • because that's what the City needs.

  • It's an incredible, you know,

  • cultural centre, economic centre

  • and yet we seem to be completely fumbling the ball

  • on a regular basis.

  • And quite frankly, I'm tired of it.

  • You know, we've been lucky

  • because our business, you know,

  • isn't based on having traffic flow and foot flow

  • and people coming back to the City

  • but a lot of them are

  • and we need to find a way to get London back to work.

  • So I'm heading off today to meet with James Dawson

  • and he owns a place called The Humble Grape.

  • And I want to be having these conversations

  • and just see that we can talk to these people out there

  • and get some better ideas

  • because right now this city doesn't seem to know

  • what the hell to do

  • and I'm tired of it

  • and I'm tired of watching all these people.

  • I speak to black cab drivers every day,

  • I speak to shop owners,

  • I speak to people out there

  • and they're frustrated with the uncertainty.

  • And so that's what I want to kind of shine a light on here.

  • And I want to start having some conversations with people,

  • maybe get some people in the studio

  • and not just about the economics, about policies

  • and about what we can do to really, you know,

  • make the City great again

  • because you know,

  • I think it's really the best city in the world

  • and it's stumbled

  • and it's stumbled much more than other major cities have.

  • And yeah, I'm frustrated

  • and I want to do something about it.

  • So I'm heading off, go speak with James

  • and see if he can walk me through what's going on here,

  • jumping into this taxi

  • and I'm gonna probably have a conversation with him.

  • Just finding out what his business is like as well,

  • because it's all related.

  • So let's do this.

  • Hey, how you doing?

  • Yeah, it's Brian, thanks so much, I appreciate it.

  • Booyah!

  • Okay, thank you for your time, I appreciate it.

  • Okay, take care.

  • There he is, the backbone of London, black cabbies.

  • Love 'em.

  • All right, so we're heading up into St. Bride's Passage

  • where Humble Grape is.

  • This is the wine bar

  • and this is a fascinating area of London.

  • There's a St. Bride's Cathedral over here.

  • This is where Fleet Street is where all the original,

  • I think the paper makers were

  • and then all of the newspapers.

  • You know this wine bar used to get a lot of business

  • from the City of London, which is the financial district.

  • I think there's a lot of lawyers around here.

  • I think there's like investment banks right down here

  • but I think that's all gone down in a significant way

  • because people are working from home

  • and they're not being encouraged to come into the City,

  • which means people like The Humble Grape

  • and other people just can't do any business

  • 'cause there's not the footfall.

  • I read that it was 42% of the income

  • from businesses in London,

  • come from the workers that come to London,

  • which is higher than most cities.

  • So it's not like you can wait around

  • for the tourists to come back,

  • you gotta have the workers back

  • or this is just never going to be an issue.

  • So anyways, I'm looking forward to talk to James

  • and just see what he has to say,

  • what it's been like,

  • what he's been struggling with

  • and what he thinks we can do to get London back to work.

  • There it is.

  • The Humble Grape.

  • - There he is. - Yo!

  • (James laughs) - What's up buddy, you well?

  • - How's it going, man?

  • - Good man.

  • - See you're looking smooth.

  • - Good to see you man.

  • Okay, it's Brian Rose

  • and I'm here at Humble Grape with James Dawson.

  • - Hi. - The proprietor, CEO, creator

  • of this, what, five location wine bar-

  • - Yeah. - in London?

  • - Yeah, we've got five.

  • We've got two neighbourhoods sites,

  • one in Battersea,

  • one in Islington

  • and then three city sites.

  • One at St. Paul's Fleet Street, one at Liverpool Street

  • and then we have

  • the one in Canary Wharf as well.

  • - Right, okay, so it's a different demographics,

  • different boroughs.

  • - Very different, very diverse, yeah.

  • - Okay, good. All right look.

  • You know, I've been a little frustrated watching

  • the city I love, London,

  • just I've been watching it kind of disintegrate

  • the last four or five months, you know.

  • I see empty shops, I see businesses struggling,

  • including you and a lot of people out there.

  • And I don't feel like our politicians

  • are doing the right things.

  • There's a lack of leadership.

  • There's a lack of anybody that understands business.

  • So I just wanted to come here

  • and talk to you today

  • and just get your thoughts on

  • some of the big struggles you're having as a business

  • and what you think that we could do to change that,

  • to get London back to work, you know,

  • to get people here, spending

  • and get this incredible cultural metropolis,

  • you know, back on its feet.

  • So yeah, maybe just get your thoughts

  • on the past few months,

  • some struggles and challenges

  • and then your thoughts on what we can do different.

  • - Yeah, so it's been, it's been a huge challenge

  • in end of March, we had to close all our businesses

  • and send all our people home.

  • Unprecedented, you know

  • and if you think you've got all these high fixed costs,

  • with rent and rates and energy bills and everything,

  • and then you just have to shut down all your revenue

  • from a 100% down to zero

  • and then try and manage that.

  • There've been some great incentives to help us

  • to kind of get through stuff over the last few months.

  • But the big problem we are having is that

  • we've got, we've got like a lot of fear

  • and people are like worried about coming into London.

  • People are concerned about going back to work

  • and that's creating issues

  • for all these businesses that support the big corporates

  • that are in Central London.

  • Some of the neighbourhoods are kind of okay

  • because people are there

  • and they're still there but the City,

  • especially Central London at St. Paul's

  • and you know, the tourist areas of Soho

  • and Covent Garden have been really badly hit.

  • - Right, 'cause the fear campaign,

  • it almost went too far, got people so scared

  • and we thought in the beginning it was the right thing to do

  • because we didn't know what this disease

  • was going to be like

  • but now it's almost like people are still scared

  • to come back in the City, to go out,

  • to frequent these retail establishments.

  • It's almost like you need another campaign

  • or new leadership to get people back

  • but it's not that simple

  • 'cause you've got to speak

  • with the corporations as well, right.

  • - Yeah.

  • So I think the campaign of fear was very successful

  • and everyone's, like, nervous about coming back to work

  • and not everyone but a lot of people are

  • and we need to have a campaign the other way

  • that's based on facts and real data,

  • like what is the real infection rate?

  • What is the real death rate per infection rate?

  • Which is much, much lower than they originally expected.

  • And we need to let people, you know,

  • operate in a safe environment

  • but also make their own choices, you know.

  • Decide whether they're comfortable

  • or they feel safe to go out

  • and they're comfortable with the risks.

  • A lot of people, for example,

  • that would cycle to work in Central London,

  • you'd probably find if you ran the numbers

  • and looked the data,

  • you're 10 times more likely to die, cycling to work and back

  • then you are from COVID.

  • So we just need to kind of reset that a little bit

  • and let people kind of, you know, protect the elderly,

  • protect people who are vulnerable

  • but let other people who are not as impacted that

  • and especially the rest of London,

  • just get back to work

  • and get back into the previous frame of mind.

  • - Yeah.

  • Well we're here at St. Bride's Passage,

  • which is kind of Fleet Street area,

  • which has a lot of city firms around here, law firms,

  • investment banks.

  • One of your locations is Canary Wharf, same kind of thing.

  • And there's very few people around here, very few workers

  • but we need to get these essential people back to work.

  • Right? Same even in The West End.

  • - Yeah.

  • - And so, cause without them, all of these businesses

  • are going to go.

  • - Yeah. - Right.

  • - Yeah, so if you walk up and down Fleet Street now

  • you'll see, I was there this morning at 9:30

  • and there's hardly a coffee shop.

  • Fleet Street used to be booming and bustling.

  • There's very few places open, a couple of pubs.

  • There's very, very little footfall,

  • which is very different from what it was before.

  • And it's kind of,

  • it's kind of scary to see that.

  • We really need to work very hard to get people feeling safe,

  • back into the office

  • and back into supporting all of these little businesses

  • they've been looking after.

  • The sandwich shops, you know, the bars, the restaurants,

  • you know, the dry cleaners, you know,

  • the guys who are clean their shoes,

  • like all that kind of stuff.

  • Everyone's kind of hurting, right

  • and it's kind of unnecessary.

  • - Yeah, I mean, I think the stat that I saw was

  • 42% of the income in London

  • comes from the workers of London

  • and a lot of them aren't here

  • and these businesses are dying