The owner of Primark has told U.K. landlords it will withhold rent payments after the country’s coronavirus lockdown prompted store closures.
Property owners need to “come to the table” after the budget fashion chain’s outlets were closed globally, John Bason, finance director of Associated British Foods Plc, said in an interview. The shutdown is causing 650 million pounds ($764 million) in lost revenue a month.
Primark is one of Britain’s most successful retailers, and its request for rent relief shows the extreme levels of distress in the industry as a result of the pandemic.
“We are putting our rent payments on hold to underline the urgency of this situation,” Bason said. “We want to work together with our landlords to come back strongly after this crisis.”
Primark has 189 stores in the U.K., 110 of them leased. The quarterly rent bill it faced Wednesday was 33 million pounds. Other retailers, including New Look and Hennes & Mauritz AB, have already asked landlords for support.
Bason said withholding rent was regrettable but necessary. He said Primark had already had “very positive responses” from landlords in continental Europe.
“We are looking for significant help,” he said. “These are extraordinary times and it is not as if this situation is pain-free for us.”
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