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Wealthy landlords could save struggling designers and tenants

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

30 Oct 2020


Wealthy West End landlords could be a saviour to struggling designers and retail tenants who’s businesses are at risk in the wake of Covid-19.

News that commercial landlord Grosvenor Estate, who’s portfolio owns a multitude of prime properties across the UK, including London’s Mayfair, Belgravia and Marylebone, could “selectively invest” in retail tenants would allow brands to navigate the effects of the pandemic and continue operations.

The wealthy property giant is believed to be in talks to take a stake in London Fashion Week designer Roland Mouret, as reported by Sky News. Mouret, who’s headquarters is in Carlos Place, Mayfair, is Grosvenor’s tenant. The deal would entail the property company to become a minority investor in Mouret’s fashion label.

The news is in stark contrast to letting agent Tower Quay properties, which in April told tenants who requested rent relief during lockdown was “unreasonable” and “unrealistic,” adding that any drop in tenants’ income would be minimised by a reduction in spending on holidays, entertainment, travel, clothes and lunches.”

“Subsequently, when all of this is taken into account, in most cases we believe the impact on disposable income will be minimal, and there is therefore no justification for any reduction in rent, especially considering that whilst tenants are isolating the wear and tear in properties is increasing, which will be at the cost of the landlord,” the Guardian quoted in April.

Support for hard-hit tenants

In a statement on its website Grosvenor Estate said: “We continue to provide broad financial and practical assistance to hard-hit tenants with a focus on the retail, food and beverage and charitable sectors. This will sit alongside a considerable programme of community and charitable support.”

“With substantial Government programmes now in place and lockdown easing, our assistance for tenants will be targeted where it is needed most. We will operate on the principle that well-capitalised tenants should continue to pay their rent, ensuring support and time can be focused where it will have the most impact.”

Grosvenor has launched a Tenant Support Fund, with aims to acquire equity stakes in a small number of its tenants’ businesses, said the Retail Gazette. The deal with Roland Mouret has yet to be confirmed but could be sealed in the coming weeks.

Last month Roland Mouret was only the second luxury brand to join Amazon Prime, after Oscar de la Renta. While the debate for selling luxury fashion on Amazon’s behemoth platform remains ongoing, at the very least it does not charge crippling rents to its featured brands.

Image via Buildington