Hatton Garden – London’s jewellery centre for hundreds of years – is rapidly changing. With Crossrail on its way in 2021, rents are increasing, while globalisation and internet shopping have cut margins for many of the businesses.
Visitors are expected to triple but the increased footfall is likely to favour different businesses. With that in mind, the Hatton Garden Business Improvement H District (BID) is shortly to publish its annual report for 2018–19. Since it began in 2016, the BID – which is supported by local businesses – has addressed these issues, in the hope that the area can move with the times while retaining its historic profile as London’s pre-eminent jewellery district.
“The commercial mix has changed dramatically,” says a spokeswoman for the Hatton Garden BID. “There has been an influx of new creative agencies.” Developers see the area as a central honeypot for offices and housing – while the recent film about the “heist” increased the notoriety of Hatton Garden in a way that some found unwelcome.
These circumstances have changed the district, says jeweller Karl Karter of London Rocks on Leather Lane, close to Hatton Garden. “The BID has been controversial in certain areas,” says Karter. “But the fact is there’s been a lot of change – more so in the last few years than in the previous 50 years.”
According to Karter, there has been a move away from the older kind of jeweller, catering to browsing couples, towards a more crafts-based approach. “The internet has had a huge effect on the industry,” he says. “The retail shops are struggling against Indian and Chinese competition.” Instead, some newer jewellers are targeting the “artisanal”