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Brexit boom set to hit London, says etc.venues MD

London’s meeting industry is set to see a Brexit boom – whatever happens in the current negotiations.

That’s according to etc.venues MD Alastair Stewart, who is refreshingly optimistic about the current political climate.

“I think Brexit for the meeting industry, particularly those in London, there will be masses of activity,” he told M&IT. “I don’t share some of the negative sentiment about Brexit, where I predict a surge in meetings in London as the public and private sector come to terms with the political decisions.

“Whatever happens, change is coming and will affect a huge number of organisations. Where we see change, we see people need to get together to talk about what they’re going to do about it. This will be true particularly in London in the next two or three years.”

Stewart is speaking to me from New York, where etc.venues has just set up its new US headquarters. The company is buoyant at the moment, having turned over £60m in 2018 – with aims to double that figure by 2022.

In the face of so much negativity and uncertainty around Brexit, it is refreshing to hear someone looking on the bright side. However, it seems ironic that we could be faced with a scenario where London, which voted strongly to remain, becomes one of the main beneficiaries of Brexit, while Leave-voting areas in the regions miss out – something I pointed out to Stewart.

“All change brings winners and losers and it will be difficult for some organisations,” he said. “But London is the global place to meet. All of us in the industry need to adapt to what’s going to happen. We’re a service business that needs to move quickly.”

Stewart also pointed to the forthcoming renovation of Parliament, which could see the House of Lords decamp to the QEII Centre, as another good news story coming down the tracks.

“With the renovation of the Houses of Parliament, all of the venues around Westminster will see lots of activity. I know the QEII Centre is a bit worried, but that’s just one of many venues – and there will be more winners than losers.

What do you think about Stewart’s comments? Are you looking forward to a Brexit bonus over the next few years? Or do you not share the positive outlook? As ever, I’d love to hear from you.