WHEN commuting into central London The Capitalist desires nothing more than to indulge in a bit of retail therapy.
So we welcome the news that Transport for London is planning to transform its old-fashioned tube stations – which currently only provide basic services, such as letting people get onto trains – into underground shopping destinations.
According to briefing documents, TfL wants to follow the lead of Network Rail and cram retail space into its stations – so expect stalls selling cigarettes and chocolate to be replaced with cafes, Tesco Metros and Amazon collection lockers.
Sadly the plans are still in their early stages so it may be a few years until you can pick up a new jacket from a boutique squeezed into the Northern Line platforms at Bank – or meet a friend for breakfast inside Canary Wharf tube station.
■ Aspirational City drinkers have been handed a double round of good news this week, as the chancellor’s proposed freeze to the alcohol duty escalator is compounded by the arrival of boutique wines from the East to London’s shelves.
Although The Capitalist expects that more focus will be placed on the price of a pint when George Osborne halts a rise in taxes of beers, wine and spirits during this afternoon’s budget speech, there will also be three cheers at Berry Bros. & Rudd, the 314-year-old St. James’s Street wineseller, which has become one of the first UK retailers to sell wines from China.
Apparently, the emerging superpower has become quite the vintner, and is now the world’s eighth-biggest wine producer, with the Chinese specialty being ice wine, produced from frozen grapes. And although ice wine is yet to catch on in the Square Mile’s bars, it is quite the popular tipple further east, with the Chinese guzzling 1.6bn bottles of the stuff a year.
With Berry Bros. & Rudd’s Chinese selection running up to £65 for a bottle, its proprietors were unlikely to be phased by the prospect of the government’s recently scrapped minimum alcohol pricing, but they will surely be pouring a glass or two when Osborne hands drinkers some much needed tax relief later today.