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Revision of retail rents and contracts is vital: UKFT Rise

May '20
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock
The revision of retail rents and contracts is important after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Patrick Dudley-Williams, the chairman of UKFT Rise, a community of early-stage fashion and textile businesses looking to build a network of supportive like-minded people. He is also founder and creative director of men’s lifestyle brand Reef Knots.

“Before the closure, footfall across high streets had been drying up and despite the announcement that non-essential retail shops will be able to reopen on 15 June, we currently have no plans to open the shutters. Social distancing requirements and a lack of footfall from City workers mean that we will likely remain closed until at least the autumn. Many small fashion businesses will be in the same position at a time when physical retail was already very tough,” Williams said in a UKFT press release.

Speaking about how businesses should tackle rental issues with landlords, William said, “Before you speak to anyone, make sure you are clear what it is you are trying to achieve and why you need it. This will make for a far more coherent argument when you speak to landlords. Everyone is going to take a hit, so work out a position that you can live with that shares the burden with all involved. Firstly, talk to your landlord immediately and explain the situation. They will already likely be talking to multiple tenants. They don’t want empty units and many landlords are giving rent holidays to tenants as they realise there will not be a queue of new occupiers if they let them fail.”

“Since our tenants formed a single tenant’s association, we have been speaking to our landlord with one unified voice. This allows us to hold far greater weight in any negotiation as the downside to the landlord is greater if we do not agree. We have set up a Twitter page and attracted press attention from the Evening Standard and the BBC News,” he added.

Discussing about access grants and furlough staff, William said, “Make sure you have applied for any grants that you are entitled to. These include £10,000 and £25,000 grants for retail businesses with a rateable values up to £15,000 and £51,000 respectively. The government furlough scheme is also there to help with staff costs while you are closed.”

“It is important to state that landlords and tenants both find themselves in a tricky situation that nobody asked for. The ability of landlords to help will depend on many factors such as their size, cash position and mortgage commitments. Clear and open discussion is the key to managing your way through this process and you must be prepared for the fact that they may not want to help,” he said.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (GK)

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June 2021

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