By Daniel Hunter
Transport for London (TfL) said at the Assembly’s Budget and Performance Committee that it was looking for new opportunities to expand the use of sponsorship on the network and generate more income from its stations and other properties.
Graeme Craig, TfL’s Commercial Development Director, said that he would be reluctant to see existing stations, such as Oxford Circus, renamed as part of a sponsorship deal. However, he noted that there might be scope to associate more stations with nearby attractions, as TfL already does at North Greenwich for the O2.
TfL aims to increase non-fares revenue from £262 million in 2012-13 to £546 million in 2014-15. As part of this, it has recently published plans for a major revamp of prime retail space in underground stations to include convenience stores, cafes and pick-up points for internet purchases. Mr Craig said that TfL still wants to work with independent traders, who currently make up the majority of their station retail units, but said that TfL also welcomes the opportunity to work with international brands.
Mr Craig also told the Committee that, in future, TfL would like to retain and improve more of its property assets to develop on-going income streams, rather than sell them off to developers.
The Committee was examining a draft of TfL’s new sponsorship policy prior to publication of the sponsorship strategy and operational guidelines this autumn. The Committee will continue to monitor the development of TfL’s approach to sponsorship.
Decisions over high profile sponsorship — such as Emirates cable car and Barclays cycle hire — would be open and transparent in future. Mr Craig said it would be made clear to corporate partners that they must buy into a culture of transparency and stated discussions were still on-going about how details of the Barclay’s cycle hire could be made publically available.
Whose brand is it anyway?, published in 2012 by the Budget and Performance Committee, highlighted the potential risks of lack of transparency for sponsorship deals made by TfL.
“It is vital TfL’s new strategy reflects the importance that Londoners feel about the transport network, and preserve its unique heritage," John Biggs AM, Budget and Performance Committee Chair, said.
"While sponsorship can bring great benefits to transport, all new deals must be transparent, provide value for money and protect TfL’s reputation. The devil is in the detail and the committee will be taking a close look at TfL’s strategy following its autumn publication to ensure TfL gets the best deal for the millions of Londoners that travel on the network every year.”
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