A Message From VSC Chairman

From: Major General Seumas Kerr CBE

Friday 18th September, 2020

Dear Members,

I hope that you are well and that your family, friends and colleagues are able to live and work safely, as best as possible, within the restrictions brought about by the Covid-19 global pandemic. Clearly, these unprecedented circumstances have enormously changed our personal and professional lives.  Not unsurprisingly, there have been considerable consequences for your Club.

Prior to Covid-19, the VSC had the highest average bedroom occupancy of all the 51 members which comprise the Association of London Clubs.  Since re-opening to members on 4th July 2020, our highest bedroom occupancy has been 54, which is broadly 25% of our usual capacity.  Our average capacity during the week prior to Covid-19 was 93%.  You will appreciate that with the restrictions on our Event activities, with our maximum numbers capped by the UK government at 30, many organisers have postponed their bookings to 2021.  Our Event sales had hitherto been a growing source of revenue following our investment in our wonderful meeting rooms, but this funding stream has also been significantly reduced.  Although our food offer remains exceptionally good value and the service from all of the staff is impeccable, our bookings are at much lower levels than what we have experienced for at least the last 5 years, owing to the impact of Covid-19.  You should be aware that if we do see a second significant lockdown the Club’s forecast income for this Financial Year will be 67% lower than our budget, which was set on 18th March 2020, by our Council.

The forecast for bedroom bookings and Events for the next three months is still far lower than what we had hoped for.  Although we have been the beneficiaries of some wonderful donations from the membership which helped meet some of the staff costs, and we have availed ourselves of every applicable element of the Government’s support packages, while cutting expenditure across our budget, the Trustees have had to reach a very difficult decision in respect of the staff.  You will wish to note that the Club has commenced a redundancy programme which once complete will see both structural changes with a reduced management model, and with merged teams, with the remaining staff working in a flexible manner, assisting other departments where and when appropriate.  The Trustees are very conscious of the excellent service our staff have provided over the years, but the Club could not retain the same staffing levels with such significantly reduced income. 

Looking ahead, we must all help the Club to continue to offer such outstanding facilities in Central London, with our commitment to Value, Service and Courtesy.  Both the Club’s President, General Sir Richard Barrons, and I have written separately to say that we are back in London, and are staying in the Club; in my case I am in the Club usually three nights a week.  In our respective notes we encouraged members to come back into London to use your Club, within the confines of the Government’s rules, as the best way of supporting the VSC.   London is getting busier by the day with increasingly more people working in their office, the Tourist attractions are opening their doors, and ‘pilot’ arrangements are being announced to re-open sporting venues.      

The staff have worked exceptionally hard to deliver a very safe Club which is Covid-19 compliant, and this follows their extraordinary efforts to remain open during the UK lockdown to offer accommodation to key workers, who were drawn from the Armed Forces, the National Health Service and our Civil Servants.  As part of our work to be Covid 19 compliant, the Club has acquired high quality thermal temperature scanners which are positioned at our main entrances, and we invested in desktop and full height screens.  The Club has acquired a wide range of PPE including gloves, masks and visors and all staff were given a digital thermometer to self-test before coming to work.  The Club also provided the staff with free fabric face masks together with access to paper face coverings too.  We have an extensive array of hand sanitiser dispensers and we use a highly accredited anti-microbial cleaning product.  All staff were required to complete a Covid-19 Training Course, which required a pass assessment for them to work here. The Club’s Covid-19 preparations were recently assessed by a well renowned UK hospitality auditor who rated our service as being within the top 5 of all London hotels which had subscribed to this no-notice ‘mystery  shopper’ testing; we aim to be in the top two. 

In conclusion, we all deeply regret that redundancies are unavoidable.  We will look to re-hire staff, where possible. when the Club is considerably busier. Until then, please do stay safe and well.  If you are unable to visit your Club, please encourage others to use us, and become members, while following what we are doing on our website and our social media pages.  

Best wishes,

Seumas Kerr CBE


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