While a Concourse shopping centre trader is pleading with owners to cut rent, the company concerned, London & Cambridge Properties, has made huge profits and for the last full year alone increased its underlying profits, described as key performance indicators, by 6% to £61,367,000.
“I’m paying full service charge for full complement of security guards, a full complement of cleaners but we’ve got reduced security and cleaning, reduced heating and lighting. Is that right?”
The business owner, who asked to remain anonymous, says requests to the operators have fallen on deaf ears, leaving him and others fearing for their livelihoods.
In the shopping centre only a small number of tenants, such as Iceland and Home Bargains have been able to stay open. Those forced to stay closed are now counting the costs of dramatic losses in income, with some attempting delivery services to make up some of the shortfall.
The owner said that his business has received a grant of £10,000 to help towards the drastic loss of income but fears this will quickly run out once rent and money owed to suppliers is paid out. A temporary suspension of business rates has also helped but the shop owner said that he paid about £1,500 a month to LCP to cover rent and utilities, as well as a further £3,000 annually for a service charge to cover other expenses such as security and cleaning staff.
He had hoped bosses would reduce these during the lockdown but said that numerous requests had been ignored. He said “I’m paying full service charge for full complement of security guards, a full complement of cleaners but we’ve got reduced security and cleaning, reduced heating and lighting. Is that right?”
The businessman stressed that traders were not asking for rent to be wiped off, but instead a small reduction to help make the loss of income more manageable and allow them to continue trading when possible. He suggested that the business rates being saved on unoccupied properties could cover some of the costs and that traders would repay any gesture from LCP by ensuring that there were still businesses around to attract customers when it becomes safe to do so again.
“They’ve done nothing since the start of this to help us, it’s not just me saying this. You should be helping us to pay rents to make sure we’re sustainable so you’ve still got businesses who can reopen. Support us, help us. We’re not asking for no rent, we’re asking to be in it together”.
A few years ago LCP stated it “is undergoing an ambitious expansion programme, not least with its current focus on local convenience parades in the retail sector”. That seems like it was bad news for the Concourse! £61million profits and its ambition to expand them even while its tenants are in trouble isn’t exactly philanthropic is it?