London 2012 will bring new business opportunities for many. In the first of a two-part feature, we profile some of the entrepreneurs making the most of next week’s Games.
Forman’s FISH ISLAND
When London won the Olympic bid in 2005, Lance Forman, owner of famous smoked salmon manufacturer Forman’s, says his “heart sank.”
The nation’s oldest salmon smoker — situated in the east End since its establishment in 1905 — it was forced to relocate to make way for the Olympic stadium. Yet five years on and things are going pretty swimmingly. The family-run business is now the closest ever building to an Olympic stadium, just 100 metres away, and is set to become the social and business networking hub of London 2012.
Mr Forman says: “We sought to turn a negative into a positive and have seized the opportunity of our location next to the Olympic stadium. It struck me that there were phenomenal opportunities especially as 4.5 billion television viewers around the world won’t be able to miss us when they tune in.”
The company moved to its current two-and-a-quarter acres premises, Fish Island, in 2007 and has been gearing up for the Games ever since. The site now boasts a unique corporate events and party venue — where Incognito’s Natalie Williams will be performing on the opening night — an art gallery and ‘Best of British’ restaurant, Formans — all of which have impressive views over the Oympic village and stadium. There will be live jazz from internationally acclaimed Ronnie Scott’s All Stars and Olympic action on plasma screens.
Part of the site has been transformed into a “Fish Island Riviera”, aiming to conjure up a feeling of being in St. Tropez, complete with luxury yachts, palm trees, beach volleyball and a beach club run by the award-wnning Maddox Club.
Fish Island Riviera will run across 1.5 acres, with a 150 metre stretch of the River Lea facing the stadium. It comprises 24 hospitality suites available for the 17 days of the Games, starting at £80,000, where suite holders can invite 250 guests a day. Speedo have signed up two suites. The public can attend for a £25 entrance fee.
“Hospitality is not about watching the sports, it’s about the wining and dining around them. Every important person around the world will be coming to the Games, so the ability to ‘capture’ them and offer them a spectacular experience within three minutes of the Olympic Park is the perfect solution. Here guests will be rubbing up against Olympic athletes and media stars.”
The Formans restaurant has already welcomed Princess Anne, Lord Coe and Sir Steve Redgrave and will be open every day during the Games.
It is open to individuals, families or corporates and space can also be booked for private parties. Prices start at £75 for champagne breakfasts, £150 for lunch and £225 for dinner. “Even for people who don’t have tickets for the Olympics this is a perfect opportunity to soak up the experience and they are more likely to meet athletes at Fish Island than in the stadium, where they might be in the back row.”
Mr Forman, a former accountant at PwC, says the nation will benefit from the Games. Does he worry about a slump afterwards? “I have no doubt that when Londoners and others come to the Olympic Park they will be impressed with what they see and will want to return. I think they will also find that we are not too far away. Most people who haven’t been, seem to think the East End of London is still in Poland.
“The dense hub of industry that was here has been destroyed but I do see sparks of regeneration as people come back and I think that following the Olympics, people will return and the centre of gravity of London will move eastwards.”
GO LONDON TOURS
Rachel Kolsky has been running her tour company, Go London Tours since 2004. A Blue-Badge tour guide — the leading guiding qualification awarded by the Institute of Guiding — she organises a variety of walking trips around east London. Her “Olympics Tour” was one of the first public tours to visit the Olympic site in March 2006.
The number of Ms Kolsky’s Olympic tours have quadrupled since 2008, doubling on 2010. Revenues this year have risen by a third due to an increasing interest in the area.
“People are fascinated to find out more about an area of London, which will be taking central stage in 2012,” she says. Organisations including the Jewish Museum and many synagogues and social groups have also participated in the tours, as have those studying urban regeneration. And then there are engineering, sporting and even environmental groups who are interested in the Olympics construction project.
Ms Kolsky has guided over 2,500 people through the excitement of London 2012 and expects to take over 800 more as final preparations get underway. Business for her other “Jewish East End tours” has also increased.
“The Olympics has rejuvenated an interest in the all things east of the city and specifically areas which have a Jewish history such as Spitalfields, Shoreditch and Stepney.”
As for business following the Games, she says: “The Olympic Park will leave a lasting legacy with revitalised canals, walkways, iconic stadium and the Orbit observation tower with easy access from all corners of London. People will certainly want to continue visiting.” She intends to continue taking tours of the Olympic site after the Games and reconfiguration of the Park.
“People will want to visit the area where the stories of the sporting heroes and heroines of London 2012 took place.”