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Indies back proposal to pay monthly rents

Independent retailers have welcomed proposals by major landlords to allow them to pay rent on a monthly basis, insisting the move would ease cash flow difficulties.

Landlords, including Land Securities and Hammerson, are understood to be preparing plans to allow businesses with a handful of shops to pay their rents monthly rather than
quarterly.

John Dean, chief executive of the British Shops and Stores Association (BSSA), said the news would be “warmly” welcomed by BSSA members.

He said: “If the plans go ahead, it could help smaller retailers with their cash flow. It’s a good idea at any time, but in a time of relative austerity it becomes even more important.”

Fiona McLean, co-owner of lingerie independent Boudiche, which has two stores in Edinburgh and Glasgow, agreed. “Monthly rents would allow indies to better manipulate their cash flow, enabling them to buy more stock and invest in other areas of the business, such as a website,” she said.

One owner of a womenswear independent said that landlords’ terms should be more accommodating to the buying seasons.

“Independents pay suppliers for their winter stock in September, and then take a massive hit on rent day later in the month. It’s a similar situation on March’s rent as spring sales haven’t kicked in by then,” he said.

“Landlords should want to improve their tenants’ cash flow. If banks pull the plug on indies, landlords will be left with empty stores.”

Paul Platt, owner of eight-store menswear independent Pockets, said monthly rents could help retailers that have more than one store. “We own five of our properties and rent the rest, but if we rented our entire portfolio it would make a big difference,” he said.

Land Securities declined to give details of talks, but said: “There are ongoing, confidential and constructive discussions.”

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