Burlington Arcade is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year.
Mayfair Times editor Selma Day meets the man in charge.
Jamie Reuben is the epitome of new Mayfair – young, dynamic and ambitious.
At the age of just 32, he is now the man in charge of Burlington Arcade – the longest covered shopping street in the UK.
The Reuben brothers bought the grade II listed mall last year from Thor Equities and Meyer Bergman.
“Burlington Arcade is one of the world’s oldest and most iconic shopping destinations, which first opened its doors 200 years ago.
“It is extremely rare to get the opportunity to buy such a special and historic building,” he says.
Jamie and I are having coffee at Hideaway, the pop-up café in the middle of Burlington Arcade.
Modest and unassuming, Jamie has charm to match his good looks.
He is dressed casually – albeit immaculately – in black jeans and the softest beige cashmere jacket.
Jamie is the son of real estate billionaire David Reuben.
He was formerly chairman of Reuben Brothers Resources, the natural resource and energy platform of Reuben Brothers Group.
As a real estate investor and developer, he is involved in the redevelopment of significant slices of the West End, in particular Mayfair.
The family rarely do interviews, preferring to keep themselves to themselves.
But it’s evident throughout our conversation that Mayfair and, in particular, Burlington Arcade holds a special place in Jamie’s heart.
Popular with tourists
The arcade welcomes four million people a year from all around the world. They come here not just to shop, but to soak up the quintessentially British atmosphere.
“The uniqueness is in the beauty of the arcade itself and the discreet shopping experiences each boutique offers,” says Jamie.
“It’s an experience that online retail can never compete with.”
He talks of the “personal one-to-one relationship” customers have with the owners of the boutiques.
Mayfair has been his home for many years and he welcomes the changes the area has seen over the past decade.
“Mayfair has really transformed for the better,” he says.
“I think it has broadened its appeal and moved from a commercial centre to a culinary, cultural and retail hub that is unrivalled in the world.”
Jamie’s latest redevelopment project in Mayfair is a new hotel, opening this year. It includes a private members’ club. (He formerly helped found Mayfair’s 5 Hertford Street with Robin Birley.)
He has also sat on the boards of numerous companies, including Arena Racing Company, which holds 40 per cent of UK racing fixtures and includes courses such as Royal Windsor and Doncaster.
Food and music
Meanwhile, back at Hideaway, Jamie tells me that a permanent food and beverage offering is on the cards at the arcade. (Until now, the only food outlet was Ladurée at the Piccadilly end of the arcade).
The aim is to encourage people to stay longer.
“We’ve also just introduced a music system to enhance the ambience in the arcade,” he adds.
For a place where humming, whistling and singing were once banned, it seems that Burlington Arcade is ready to embrace the next 200 years.
For the full interview in the Mayfair Times, read here.
To find out more about the Burlington Arcade, read here.