Retail landlords under the cosh again as stores prepare to reopen from coronavirus lockdown

Retail landlords needed more brave faces today after another raft of store closures and financial restructurings aimed primarily at slashing rents.

Zara owner Inditex led the way as the Spanish group accompanied a €2.7bn investment in its online offering with the closure of 1,200 smaller stores.

Monsoon Accessorize, meanwhile went into administration last night and was immediately bought by its owner Peter Simon.

The fashion group owns 230 stores. Around 100 are expected to reopen after a lease restructuring but 35 are to close immediately with the loss of 545 jobs.

AIM-listed Quiz PLC (LON:QUIZ) announced a similar arrangement this morning for its standalone store arm, Kast.

The division was placed into administration only for 82 stores to be immediately reacquired by Quiz for £1.3mln.

Leases for the majority of these stores will be renegotiated over next month, said the company.

The Restaurant Group PLC, meanwhile, unveiled a financial restructuring that will see 125 outlets shut and discussions start with landlords over rents and leases on a further 85.

The problems have even extended to the heart of London, an area traditionally insulted from property movements in the rest of the country.

West End specialist Shaftesbury PLC, which owns large parts of Chinatown and Carnaby St, said it had only collected around 28% of rents due in March as a result of lockdown restrictions imposed in the capital.

"Landlords can expect a lot more bad news in the coming months,” said Patrick O'Brien, research director at retail analyst GlobalData.

“While retailer share prices are making a remarkable recovery, and the headlines next week will be centred on the good news of stores reopening with long queues, this will be a short-term pop.

“Once the novelty wears off, and people have spent some of the cash they've saved through lockdown, harsher realities will bite.”

Britains listed retail property landlords have already taken an estimated £2.7bn hit on their shopping centre and secondary retail interests.

At the weekend, Intu Properties, which owns the Trafford Centre, Metro and Merry Hill centres, was reported to have lined up administrators in the event talks over a debt refinancing falter.

Its a rapid decline for a business that was in the FTSE 100 but has shed 95% of its value in the past five years as online shopping and changing tastes and changing consumer behaviour took a toll.

Investment bank Credit Suisse wrote yesterday that the current pandemic is rapidly speeding up many of tRead More – Source

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