Cartier’s image is as much their Bond Street London HQ as it is their watches. They wished to secure a future lease by proving to the freeholder that redevelopment of their grade II* listed building was not possible. We were asked to consider whether the special interest of the listed building was sufficiently fundamental that such works would be unacceptable to the authorities.
The role of historical research is of huge value in such cases. We discovered that the Cartier family had hosted General De Gaulle on his arrival in the UK during the war. He had temporary offices at the Cartier building and actually recorded his BBC announcement of the Free French Movement from the Cartier boardroom. This gave extra weight to the historic importance of the non-retail areas and convinced English Heritage to revise the listed building description, making redevelopment less likely.