LONDON firms are splashing out £100million on staff parties over just two nights as the capital celebrates the biggest party season of the year.
Hotels, restaurants, clubs and bars will be full to capacity tonight as around one million workers down tools to celebrate ahead of the Christmas break.
Analysts today revealed that London companies had sanctioned between £80million and £100 million on two massive party nights, last night and tonight. The figure is down slightly on last year, when £120 million was spent over the Thursday and Friday nights before Christmas, with the fall blamed on the credit crunch.
Companies have swapped huge company bashes for smaller departmental events, as well as sharing venues with other firms to cut costs. Many firms are moving their annual bash to January to secure a better deal.
City firms are also booking clubs such as Mo*vida and Whisky Mist for a few hours at the start of the evening, before joining regular clubbers later on.
Last night at Mo*vida, 350 guests from a City bank, a fashion house and music label filled the Soho club and paid up to £90 a head for a “Gold” menu of champagne and canapés.
The club’s communications director Dan Kapp said: “Some of the Cristal drinkers have moved to Dom Pérignon, paying £220 a bottle instead of £350 or swapping premium £500 vodka for Belvedere at £180, but we’ve had a very strong three weeks.”
Party-planning firms have also reported brisk business, despite the downturn. Concerto Group has arranged 350 events in the past three weeks for 70,000 people and has hosted a record-breaking £583-a-head bash at the Natural History Museum’s Earth Gallery for a private client.
Another Concerto event this week saw 200 people spending £50,000 on drinks alone. Chairman of Concerto Group Mike Kershaw said: “We had a few cancellations earlier this year, mostly in the financial sector. People are spending a bit less but there are still a huge number of events costing more than £100 million.”
Bespoke party planners Quintessentially Events, whose clients include Pareto Bank and EA Games, hired out Boujis in South Kensington for a “well-known” City finance firm for £25,000.
Mayfair’s Whisky Mist saw profits jump 30 per cent in December as affluent firms enjoyed £1,300-a-time Quaich drinks – Cristal served in an 18th-century solid silver trophy, accompanied by a bagpiper. An investment bank, luxury goods firm, and television company all paid between £30,000 and £85,000 to use the venue.
At Rumi and the Valmont Club, both in Chelsea, international banks and media firms are swapping events offering all-you-can-drink free cocktails and champagne, for more modest champagne receptions after which guests have a beer, wine and spirits allowance of between £40 and £80 a head.
Anabel Fielding, director of Quintessentially Events, said: “London firms will still spend around £80 million on parties over last night and tonight. People are still having a laugh, but not having such a flutter as they did last year.”
At Chinawhite in Soho, banks and property firms are booking departmental parties for between 10 and 20 people with a minimum spend of £120 per person to party to DJs like Sam Ronson.
Last year whole companies hired the club exclusively for around £70,000. Jeremy Hartley, managing director of Chinawhite, said: “It works out as a much better party.”