The Silverton

Canary Wharf: How Sixt now offers car rental deep beneath Wharfers’ feet

Worldwide brand expands to Canada Place’s Level -3 car park, offering a range of vehicles for hire

Sixt is located on Level -3 in Canada Place car park, Canary Wharf

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Those who don’t drive to Canary Wharf are unlikely to have made it to the glamorously named Level -3 of Canada Place’s car park.

But Wharfers who have recently descended so far via the lifts to the right of Waitrose may have been surprised to find a vibrant splash of orange in the deep.

Car rental firm Sixt has joined UFO Drive in offering vehicles for hire on the estate – and it’s created a glossy, disco ball of a space, all vibrant colour and shining LEDs.

In celebration of its arrival the company offered to lend Wharf Life a car for a couple of days to demonstrate the process. So I accepted.

Stepping through the glass doors of the brand’s richly kitted out unit – complete with bright orange desks, a sliver of bustling flatscreen and smiling staff – it was easy to forget I was in a car park.

Everything inside was clean, shiny and new.

Inside Sixt’s latest opening at Canary Wharf

Due to poor organisational skills, I’d managed to turn up a month early for my booking, but the patient staff simply made a few calls and sorted things out with minimal fuss.

I’d been expecting a lucky dip economy car – a VW Polo or similar – but was also offered an upgrade to Tesla’s long range Model Y.

A chunky all-wheel drive electric, it’s capable of zipping to 60mph in less than four seconds from a standing start.

The staff took me through the rudiments of the vehicle which, after some jerky pulling away, I managed to pilot gingerly out of the car park avoiding any bumps.

My plan was simple. First, survive the journey home. Then decide on a destination out of the smoke to find some winter fresh air – nothing fancy, just a jaunt.

Both went entirely to plan. The Tesla turned out to be almost too easy to drive.

Its lack of dials was a little peculiar at first, with a large touchscreen in the centre of the car handling all necessary read-outs.

Bristling with cameras to aid manoeuvring and a curious video game-like graphic of the position of other motorists, cyclists, traffic lights and traffic cones, it was a vision of the self-drive future yet-to-come.

The Tesla Model Y on its travels

Indeed, there was a sense of the car already becoming self-aware.

I felt it intervene at least once while driving on the motorway to prevent us wandering into another lane.

No bad thing, perhaps, but the wheel moving independently was a little disconcerting.

I opted to travel to Warley Place Nature Reserve as a fair test of a run just beyond the M25.

The Tesla – firm of ride – managed the country bumps well enough and I found myself rapidly delivered to a place less than an hour from London, but also worlds away.

Run by a voluntary, charitable trust, the reserve comprised the remains of the gardens attached to the long ruined house, the family home of Edwardian horticulturist Ellen Willmott.

It was a beautiful spot in the February sunshine, liberally coated in daffodils, snowdrops and crocuses.

While not completely impossible to access via public transport, the only alternative to a car would be to catch a train to Brentwood and arrange taxis to and from its location.

The Essex Wildlife Trust proved a welcoming bunch, albeit a little over sensitive on the health and safety front.

Cheery warnings were imparted as I walked through the gate about keeping to the path lest terrible peril befall the unwary.

This proved to be very much the theme of my visit as fresh terrors were regularly depicted by scary yellow signs flagging deep and dangerous water in every pond, unstable walls and the ever-present threat of CCTV surveillance.

A view towards London from Warley Place Nature Reserve

But despite a flash of hailstones and the fearful cacophony of the warnings, I was charmed by the place.

Clearly loved by its volunteer army, who keep its ramshackle beauty in good order – enough to attract a multitude of birds and other wildlife.

It was the ideal antidote to the formality of the city, although a view of a distant Canary Wharf did pop up from one vantage point.

As for the car itself, it was more or less effortless to drive after getting used to its curious lack of forward crawl.

Unlike standard automatics the Model Y doesn’t creep forward when the brake is released but waits until its accelerator is pressed.

It also brakes when it is released, more akin to a manual petrol car and a feature that essentially lends itself to one-pedal driving.  

This was my first experience of renting an electric and proved seamless enough with a full battery supplied on collection.

The only minor faff was having to ensure an 80% charge on return of the vehicle, which took about 15 minutes on one of Canary Wharf’s Level -3 Tesla Superchargers.

Then it was simple to park up, drop the key in the slot and go about my morning.

Sixt also rents petrol cars and hybrids – still its main area of business – with prices for the same length of hire starting at £32.66 per day for an entry level vehicle.

FACT FILE – TESLA MODEL Y LONG RANGE

Cost: £74.66 per day (from Sixt)

Minimum hire: 3 days (from Sixt)

Range: 331 miles

0-60mph: 3.5 seconds

Top Speed: 135mph

Equipment: 15” Touchscreen

Seating: 5 Adults

Hire from UFO Drive of a Tesla Model Y Long Range was £102 per day at the time of writing

The walled garden at Warley

Read more: Discover the work of fashion businesses Fabrika and Vavi Studio

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com

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Canary Wharf: How Russell And Bromley blends history with cutting edge retail

Canada Place store acts as ideal modern backdrop to the 140-year-old brand’s high end products

Russell & Bromley recently opened its latest store in Canary Wharf

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Russell & Bromley pulls off a neat trick.

The latest retailer to arrive in Canary Wharf is both a brand with decades of history while also shining out of its new store in Canada Place with a cool blast of chic modernity.

Even before officially opening its doors, the footwear and handbag shop’s wall-size visual display was drawing attention in the mall.

But step into the pale wood, brass and bronze interior and the atmosphere has a subtle flavour of the brand’s pedigree to it, with golden metal and minimal displays showing off the products to luxurious effect. 

“We have a 140-year-old family owned business that looks to entertain its customers with a modern shopping experience and offers a wide range of products for men and women manufactured in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Northern Europe,” said Andrew Bromley, CEO of Russell & Bromley.

“We blend modern styling with longevity and quality through long-term partnerships with factories, including some that my grandfather worked with.

“I knew him well – he was around for a long time. I’ve taken over from my father, having apprenticed with him 25 years ago and he took over from his. 

“My brother’s now doing what my uncle did, and he did what his uncle did.

“Originally the Russells and the Bromleys were both shoe purveying families.

“The Russells were manufacturers and the Bromleys were in sales

“George Russell got together with Julia Bromley, and George Bromley got together with Liz Russell.

“There’s a huge thread that runs through it all.

“Today my brother, my cousin and I are now all working in the business and the wider family are sill linked in too – especially with what the brand is doing and where we are going.

“For us, it’s about balancing that heritage with modernity and the passion we bring to the business.”

Family business: Russell & Bromley CEO Andrew Bromley – image Jon Massey

In 2023, Russell & Bromley is very much a forward-looking, high end retailer focused on building and continuing to develop and market products under its own brand.

Its 1,300sq ft Canary Wharf store sees the brand operating in more than 33 stores worldwide including a recent opening in Dublin.

“The Canada Place shop is a new concept, which we’ve built to further engage customers,” said Andrew.

“We’re data-led as a business so we see how customers interact with our stores and what they require. It’s the balance of online and in-store shopping.

“People like to try shoes on in person. There’s nothing like walking out of a shop with a pair you know will fit.

“Buying online works too and that’s a big part of our business – customer satisfaction is about wearing fashion that’s comfortable, modern, puts a smile on your face and gives you confidence.

“Shopping in a store is a different experience, but still incredibly relevant.

“When customers come in to see us they will find a team with great expertise, knowledge of the trends we’re offering and the outfits they can be worn with.

“We love people to feel welcome and that comes from the environment we’ve created, the skills of the team and the general ambience.

“The most exciting thing for us is to see a customer’s face when they walk out of the shop happy.

“We aim to create a family environment in our stores and in the company as a whole.

“That binds us together and adds an element of the personalities of all those involved in the journey.

The Canary Wharf store features plush upholstery and plenty of brass

“The store team in Canary Wharf will add their piece to the story while also having the knowledge passed down from the buying and marketing teams, so they know what fits with what our customers are after.”

While Andrew and the team are unquestionably focused on the business side of the brand’s operation, there’s a real sense of enjoyment at the prospect of engaging with customers on the Wharf – a place that’s long been on the firm’s radar as a possible location.

“Black is, of course, one of the main colours, but coming out of the pandemic we’re seeing people really wanting some colour,” said Andrew.

“One of the big things we look for when selecting products is that glint in the eye – shoes where the customer can have a bit of fun trying them on, then going out for dinner or heading out to meet friends.

“We have really important relationships with our manufacturers – we don’t own a factory ourselves, but work with different suppliers. 

“What people see in the stores is a very carefully considered, curated edit.

“The customer is always in our minds and the data we have from them is central to the whole process. It’s about presenting people with what we feel they need.

“I could easily say that it’s the opening of the Elizabeth Line that has led us to Canary Wharf, but there’s been a constant increase in interest over a much longer time.

“We had success at Westfield White City and we always felt our brand would do well in Canary Wharf.

“It’s a huge community which has developed beyond just office spaces.

“There’s a lot of lifestyle options here, a lot of residents and a lot of hospitality businesses. 

“People are living their lives in Canary Wharf in a way that perhaps they didn’t before, so we felt now was the right time.”

As for the future, the brand’s latest store is right at the forefront of its increasing integration of digtal and traditional retail.

“We’ve got a big project to enhance customer experience – joining up online and in-store to make things seamless,” said Andrew. 

“It’s bringing the storytelling of what we do and why we’re doing it to both places. 

“About 80% of customer journeys start online, and yet nearly 70% of our business is in-store. 

“There’s always going to be a need – a lot of brands that started online are now seeking physical space. Our message is that wherever you want to buy, we’re here for you.”

THE WHARF LIFE EDIT

Six styles picked out from the brand’s current range for Wharfers to consider:

CLEOPATRA, £275

R&B says: “Cleopatra is a contemporary reimagining of our bestselling loafer.

“Crafted from smooth nappa leather in a bold pink hue and set on a lightweight contrast sole, this style has been adorned with a chunky gold three-ring chain trim, structured piping detail and a subtle plaited welt, offering chic finish to a cult classic.”

SLINGPOINT, £245

R&B says: “Bringing back the Y2K kitten heel, Slingpoint is a comfortable way to wear the heeled slingback trend.

“Crafted in Italy from metallic pink leather, this chic pump has been set on a vintage-inspired kickback flared heel wrapped in matching pink metallic leather.”

TOPFORM, £245

R&B says: “Evoke 70s styling with the Topform sandal.

“Crafted from criss-crossing straps of smooth lilac suede, this style has been detailed with a flattering ankle strap and buckle fastening.

“Set on a chunky platform sole and comfortable block heel, effortlessly ease back into occasion-wear in style.”

QUILTBOX, £295

R&B says: “Refined elegance is optimised with Quiltbox, our timeless quilted shoulder bag. It’s crafted in Italy to a rectangular silhouette.

“Wear it day and night, casually or to finish off evening looks.”

ORIEL, £275

R&B says: “Add the preppy refinement of collegiate style to your outfits with Oriel.

“Crafted from butter-soft tan-brown suede to a round-toed frame that contrasted with sleek leather panels, piping and tassels, and set on comfy gum soles, they’re the perfect week to weekend shoe.”

HOVE M, £245

R&B says: “Hove M is a luxurious yet laid-back lace-up derby designed to walk you through the everyday.

“Crafted from rich double-faced calf leather in a glossy brown hue, this style boasts a buttery soft, sumptuous feel from top to toe, whilst a statement square toe detail has been accentuated by enlarged piping and intricate stitchwork.

“Finished on a translucent, leisure-inspired gum sole creating a clean elevation, Hove M offers both style and durability with each step.”

Read more: Discover the work of fashion businesses Fabrika and Vavi Studio

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Canary Wharf: How Atis aims to nourish and satisfy with its salad bowls

Co-founder Eleanor Warder talks inspiration and sustainability as the brand opens in Canada Place

The Nourisher salad bowl from Atis in Canary Wharf

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Canary Wharf has, as far as I know, only one takeaway brand that draws part of its identity from ancient mythology.

Atis takes its name from the Phrygian god of vegetation – a deity whose death and resurrection echoes the plants and trees that die in winter only to rise again in spring and whose cult spread from what is now Turkey through Greece to ancient Rome.

The branch the company recently opened in Canary Wharf is its fourth location but there are two more in the pipeline.

Evidence perhaps that its founders – husband and wife team Eleanor Warder and Phil Honer – would like to see the brand spread as widely as worship of its mythic namesake did in ancient times.

That, of course, will ultimately be down to the appeal of what it sells – bowls of salad with an approach inspired by time spent overseas.

“We lived in America for a bit before we launched the business in 2019,” said Eleanor. “Phil was doing an MBA there and I joined him. 

“We’d always wanted to do something in food.

“Phil had worked in financial services in London after university and always felt there was something lacking – a place offering simple, fast, healthy, delicious food.

“They say America is always a step ahead and they have companies like Sweetgreen there which are huge – all over the west and east coasts.

“We went there and to similar places a lot when we were living in Boston – we drew inspiration from them.

“So we came back to the UK in the summer of 2018 and spent a year developing the concept.

“It was particularly difficult in the beginning – when we were unknown – and finding our first location took about a year, but we opened in Old Street in September 2019 before going on to launch sites in Belgravia and Notting Hill.

“We want to grow and expand. I’m not sure we’ll ever be the next Pret, although that would be fantastic.

“For us it’s about quality, brand and experience – so we have to keep that in mind as our company gets bigger.”

Atis is located in Canada Place’s Crossrail Walk

Atis does things a bit differently. About half of the unit it has taken in Canada Place’s Crossrail Walk – between Waitrose and the Elizabeth Line station – is filled with staff preparing and cooking the ingredients it serves.

On the other side, a production line stands ready to put together its core range of seasonal salad bowls ranging in price from £6.50-£9.60 for a regular or £7.50-£10.70 for a large.

There’s also an option for customers to build their own for £6.90 or £7.70.

Hot and cold premium ingredients are extra. The aim is to offer Wharfers filling, satisfying products that deliver on flavour – something Eleanor knows all about.

“We have worked with a really brilliant, creative chef to develop core bowls that are really interesting,” she said.

“When people walk in, they see the line is predominantly fresh produce.

“The colour is really important for us – and the taste – so people get the full experience of the food they are buying.

“We’re trying to create a balance between being innovative and giving people what they want. For example, people really love tomatoes, so we do them straight, rather than doctoring them.

“But then we have a section – our hot protein element – where we take things up another level cooking ingredients using lots of spices and marinades.

“This is our main selling point.

“You can have a bowl at Atis that is fully vegan or vegetarian

but people can also add our blackened chicken, for example. 

“We toyed with the idea of being completely plant-based, but we decided against it because our ethos is that we shouldn’t cut out food groups. 

“The idea is that people can have meat one day and choose not to on another – they have that flexibility.

“The most important thing is that whether it’s regular or large, our bowls leave people feeling satisfied and nourished.

“There’s this old idea that salads are potentially quite grim and won’t fill you up.

“We’re trying to change that so our customers feel what they are getting is satisfying, good value for the price and high on flavour.

“My background is in the wine trade, originally in a startup importing and selling to small independent restaurants in London before I moved into hospitality and became a sommelier.

“With Atis, my focus is very much on the food we serve, developing the menu and the marketing.

Atis co-founder Eleanor Warder

“Personally, I flip between ordering the core bowls, and then building my own. 

“The latter is very popular, especially on our online platforms, which shows you that people do want control and flexibility over what they eat.”

While Atis probably has Eleanor’s joint honours degree in classics to thank for its name, its presence in Canary Wharf has more to do with Phil.

“Canary Wharf was already on our minds when we started the business,” said Eleanor. 

“Phil was very keen and had identified it as a place that would be really good, and I think he was completely right.

“He had worked here, knew that there would be a demand for us and that there were other operators doing really well on the estate.

“The real appeal for us is that our customers are a balance between commercial and residential, and the vertical density of population on the estate is really great for our business.”

In addition to nourishment, sustainability is at the core of Atis’ operation.

Eleanor said: “It’s an area that’s  increasingly important for us, as it should be, and it’s been a big learning curve – especially on the packaging front and it’s something customers expect.

“What we have found is that parts of the UK don’t necessarily have the infrastructure to be able to deal with recycling in the right way and that’s quite shocking.

“People think they’re doing good – putting their waste in the correct bin, but there’s a whole  other side to it, which makes things challenging.

“Coming into Canary Wharf – which is right at the forefront of sustainability – we’ve learnt that everyone has to really concentrate on making sure what should be happening actually is.

“Obviously there is also the food itself. We are plant-powered and that’s a huge element when we’re talking about sustainability.

“The UK is a small country and we can’t get everything we use from these shores, but we do source whatever we can locally. 

“We also have seasonal focus – changing our menu four times a year to reflect what’s available and considering carefully what we can get from the UK.

“Right from the outset we’ve also been working with different partners, one of which is Too Good To Go, which helps to pass on food that would otherwise go to waste at a reduced cost.”

Atis is open in Canada Place from 11am-9pm Mon-Thurs and 11am-3pm Fri-Sun.

The Azteca Bowl topped with blackened chicken

HOW IT TASTES

Azteca Bowl, £14.10 (£10.70 large bowl + £3.40  blackened chicken)

Large really does mean large when ordering from Atis.

The Azteca isn’t quite a bottomless bowl, but by the time I’m done munching through the (optional) blackened chicken, there’s little doubt the brand’s mission to fill me up is a success.

This is more than just unctuous slices of well-cooked protein draped over some leaves, however.

There’s real depth to the Azteca, coming as it does with black eyed beans, charred corn, baby spinach, chopped romaine lettuce, something called “sustain yo’self avo smash”, picked red onions, Feta cheese and some crumbled tortilla chips all topped off with a lime and coriander dressing.

At a chunky 965 calories without the chicken, it’s a pretty serious pot of food but there’s a freshness to it that makes good on all Atis’ fine words. 

I’ve no idea what’s in the smash, but it’s delicious and comes together perfectly in a blend that’s balanced enough to let all the big ticket flavours have their space.

If the other salads are this good, Atis will rapidly find its place in the hearts of many Wharfers.

Read more: How Bread And Macaroon serves up treats in Wapping

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Canary Wharf: Yole opens Canada Place branch as two friends grow their business

Brand developed in Spain sells ice cream and frozen yoghurt with no added sugar as a healthier dessert

Image shows Milad Nawaz and Salman Qureshi of Yole - image by Matt Grayson
Milad Nawaz and Salman Qureshi of Yole – image by Matt Grayson

Milad Nawaz and Salman Qureshi have been friends for about 20 years. Friends at university, the pair sold sunglasses together at Harvey Nichols before both embarking on careers in banking.

“I was probably the better salesman,” said Milad, who subsequently became a consultant. “We used to try to take each other’s customers.”

“We’ve actually had arguments over this,” said Salman, who left banking after a couple of years to go into retail, partially at least because he didn’t like wearing a suit every day.

The warmth between the two men – born 20 days apart – is palpable. As we chat they earnestly praise each other’s skillsets, the foundation of a business partnership born in 2014 as they began to discuss working together.

The pair’s first experience of franchising came in 2016 when they opened a branch of Subway in Leyton. They grew that business to 11 outlets before selling two and maintaining a portfolio of nine.

In 2019 they became the master franchisors for Wok & Go – a food store where customers see their noodles cooked fresh in front of them – in a deal that gave them the rights to the whole of greater London.

It’s a business they’re keen to grow with an east London branch expected to open in Canning Town in the coming months.

But right now the focus is on something sweeter, albeit without the usual sugar rush – ice cream and frozen yoghurt brand Yole, which opened in Canary Wharf on August 14.

“We actually debated for a while because we were looking for another venture and it was Milad’s idea to get a dessert, but something healthy,” said Salman.

“We spent a lot of time doing research – about a year searching for a brand – and we found Yole and it ticked the boxes.”

A serving of ice cream from Yole - image by Matt Grayson
A serving of ice cream from Yole – image by Matt Grayson

Milad added: “We’d been looking at bubble tea, which is a big trend, but that’s full of sugar – for me, I want to enjoy dessert and not worry about the calories.

“A medium cup of Yole is equivalent to a mango, a small cup works out at about a banana.

“Our servings start at 55 calories and then you add the fruit so you have something that has protein and fibre in it and it’s gluten free.

“Every new product that the owners are developing is also sugar-free.

“For example we’ll have a bubble waffle coming out later this year and that’s the first sugar-free one in the world. Yole started off in Singapore – the founders began by franchising for another ice cream brand but they decided they wanted to change it up and spent two years making a sugar-free version. 

“The whole concept is healthy desserts – something you don’t have to feel guilty about. That’s how we fell in love with it”

Salman said: “The products are developed in Spain and the owners are Spanish. They have massive plans to open worldwide.

“We’re looking to expand in the UK and we have master franchisor rights for that.”

Canary Wharf is the pair’s second opening in the UK, having already launched an outlet at Lakeside shopping centre. Plans are in the pipeline for further branches at Canary Wharf, Covent Garden, Shaftesbury Avenue and Westfield White City, with further hope for one at Westfield Stratford City.

“Our plan is to open five stores initially – the first thing you want to do is to make sure the customers love it and that it works in this country,” said Milad. “Then we want to roll it out across the rest of the UK.”

Yole offers its core products in a variety of different ways – in small, medium and large cups with a selection of toppings including fresh fruit, sauces and – for those who need a bit of sugar, marshmallows and M&Ms.

“The customers who have tried it at Lakeside have loved the taste,” said Salman. “We also have something unique – the cone, which we make in front of them once they’ve ordered. I haven’t come across anyone making them fresh and warm and also, the size of it is a lot larger than you’ll find in many other places, making it really good value.”

The Canary Wharf branch of Yole - image by Matt Grayson
The Canary Wharf branch of Yole – image by Matt Grayson

Cones cost around £3.95 at Yole, while other options such as having bubble tea pearls included with your ice cream or a serving of pre-flavoured Twist cost £4.95 and £4.45 respectively.

“The Twist has been very well received – people sometimes think it’s like a McFlurry but it’s covered with fruit and it’s sugar-free,” said Salman.

Milad added: “The Boba is following the trend of bubble tea, so you’ll have the tapioca balls with mango or strawberry and you have it with the ice cream instead of with the tea. Our products are great for children because they don’t get that sugar rush and they’re also suitable for diabetics. There’s something for everyone.”

Salman said: “I have a four-year-old and this is the first time I’ve let him go crazy on ice cream.

“We really believe in the ethics of the brands we’re working with now. We’re very conscious about promoting things that are healthy. I want my son to be eating healthy food and I want to sell things I’d give to my kids.

“We’re also very conscious of being environmentally friendly – everything that can be is recyclable or breaks down.

“We’ve all seen the weather recently and we can all do our bit by educating the people around us and raising awareness about climate change. We all need to work together and brands need to get behind that. Yole is certainly doing its bit.”

Canary Wharf was selected as a place to open partly due to Milad’s knowledge of the area.

“Because Milad has worked in Canary Wharf for years he had a particular vision,” said Salman. “For example, he just knew this site would work for Yole.”

Milad said: “Everyone here works really hard and they are concerned about what they eat. 

“You can see Farmer J is doing really well because it’s all freshly made in the morning.

“People don’t mind paying a little bit more for something healthy. Investment bankers work 12 hours a day, the least they can do is eat healthily. For us, it’s about getting the message out there that Yole is healthy.”

While the pair are currently working hard on their various franchise options, they said they were very happy to talk with anyone else who was considering leaving the corporate world to start their own business.

Milad said: “If there’s anyone who wants to talk about doing it, we’re very open. We’ll always try and help because we had mentors when we were younger and they guided us. I would say for those considering starting their own thing that you should stay working in your job at the start.

“There is a lot of risk involved and you should work to get it to a point where the business is stable first.”

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