The UK retail sector is evolving rapidly – for example the way in which consumers shop and the changing nature of the high street are all affecting the use, financial value and location of retail assets.
Forsters advises a range of clients who own, invest or develop real estate assets within the retail sector and our advice principally centres on property matters. We also have the experience and track record to advise on tax efficient structures and dispute resolution.
We have an extensive track record of advising developers and investors, particularly on large-scale and complex developments where there is often a mixed use element. We also act for one of the leading restaurant operators advising on their new restaurant developments, franchising and general portfolio management.
Our cohesive approach enables us to draw on a variety of skill sets to progress schemes from the planning stage right through to negotiating leases with anchor tenants or in the case of owner occupiers, operating. The comprehensive commercial and pragmatic advice we deliver to our clients provides a solid foundation to their overall investment strategy and approach.
In an effort to mitigate the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic while still seeking to limit the spread of the virus, the Government has announced that most non-essential shops, department stores and shopping centres will be allowed to reopen in June 2020.
The restrictions on movement imposed by the Government, in its attempt to control the spread of coronavirus, have exacerbated the already difficult trading conditions in which many retailers find themselves. Recent days have seen the sad news that both Debenhams and Cath Kidston have filed notice to appoint administrators. It can be expected that others will follow.
Note for landlords of commercial properties- particular points re rent recovery from tenants in current market conditions
Many tenants (particular those in the retail and hospitality sectors- but also a considerable number of office and industrial tenants) are not paying their rent in full or, in many cases, at all. Some of these tenants are major companies (such as JD Sports and WH Smith) who one would think could afford to pay. According to press reports, only 48% of commercial rents had been paid for the March 2020 quarter by the start of April.