£12.5bn to refocus the London eye

The London Eye is to receive a £12.5bn makeover in time for the UK Olympics in 2012, serving to ‘future proof’ it as one of the nation’s most iconic landmarks.

Starting this summer, the investment programme will begin with a ‘nip and tuck’ to the Eye’s 32 capsules, after which each will be removed one at a time for an upgrade.

Under the modernisation plan, each observatory pod will be wi-fi enabled and kitted out with four ceiling-mounted multimedia screens, allowing for visuals and music.

To maintain the working image of the Eye, which is the world’s largest cantilevered observation wheel, a dummy pod will be installed to replace the pods as they are upgraded.

None of the work will interrupt the Eye’s normal operation and carrying it out means no other maintenance for the next 15-20 years, said its owner Merlin Entertainments.

Although observers may look upon the investment as further evidence of the public sector’s resilience, Merlin is backed by The Blackstone Group, a US private equity firm.

Merlin’s David Sharpe, who is the chief executive of the London Eye, said the cash injection was “more important than ever [given] the current economic climate.”

In these straitened times, he said visitors were looking “for real value for their leisure pound”, particularly Britons choosing home instead of abroad for their holidays.

Whether international or domestic, these visitors have helped shape the scheme of works, as their wish of a ‘green’ heating and ventilation system will be installed in each pod.

Merlin added that upgrading the Eye was “very important” to the standing of the UK’s leisure and tourism industry, “especially with the Olympics coming to London in 2012.”

By then, PR experts at Colman Getty will have finished bringing another of the capital’s iconic, albeit more traditional, landmarks into modern-day relevance - Big Ben.

Both of the high-value, ‘above the line’ promotions might make workers in the private sector pause for thought, as 30% of employers are about to cut their spending on Marketing and PR.

In fact, the budget for Communications was the second most likely target of the one-third of small to mid-size companies looking to cut costs, according to the latest Tenon survey.

The entrepreneurs’ advisory said, that overall however, the outlook among such employers was brightening, given 75% said demand for their services would stay the same or increase.

Supporting this suggested easing in the number of hard-up companies, access to credit is now less of issue for business owners, according to the Open University Business School.

Yet the research reinforced separate small business research, as it shows a tailing off in customer demand for their company’s product or service is now their main worry.

 

Editorial image courtesy of Sarah G...

 

19th May 2009

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