Fuller’s cancels rent costs for hundreds of pub tenants

Pub group Fuller’s has been cheered after it stopped taking rent from tenants after sites were forced to shut down by the Government.

It comes as hospitality and leisure companies face billions of pounds worth of rental payments this week, despite being forced to halt operations.

Fuller’s said it has stopped taking commercial rent from pub landlords to “support them at this difficult time”.

People took to social media to praise the pub group’s move.

Emma Burnell tweeted to say she will have a “celebratory pint” at one of Fuller’s pubs after the outbreak is over.

Fuller’s said it is focused on protecting its 5,000 team members across its pub estate, 89% of which is owned freehold by the business.

Other pub groups, such as Kent-based Shepherd Neame, have also frozen rents in response to the shutdown.

Fuller’s closed its pubs on Friday after the Prime Minister said all pubs, restaurants and leisure venues would have to close their doors in a bid to stem the outbreak.

The pub company said it will see a “material reduction” in its trading performance, which will depend on the duration of the temporary closures.

Fuller's chief executive Simon Emeny (Fuller's/PA)
Fuller’s chief executive Simon Emeny (Fuller’s/PA)

It said it is in a “strong financial position … with a healthy balance sheet and significant liquidity headroom”.

Simon Emeny, chief executive of Fuller’s, said: “These are unprecedented times.

“The impact of Covid-19 on the hospitality sector, and indeed the nation, cannot be underestimated.

“However, Fuller’s is a long-term business, established on extremely sound foundations, which equips it well to navigate testing times such as these.

“This will end and, when it does, we will be ready to welcome our customers into our wonderful pubs and hotels and provide the fantastic food, drink and exceptional service that we have been delivering for nearly two centuries.”

As the vast majority of hospitality businesses are all now closed & have been haemorrhaging cash over the last 3 weeks, UKH is calling for the Government to urgently enact a moratorium on commercial landlord sanctions & debt enforcement. https://t.co/KmbrthVWJv

— UKHospitality (@UKHofficial) March 23, 2020

Trade body UKHospitality said under-pressure pubs and restaurants will be due to pay billions of pounds of rent bills this week.

It said that the majority hospitality business are leasehold and pay quarterly rent in advance, with the next pending rent day on Wednesday March 25 for many businesses.

If payments are made late or there is a default, tenants can face penalties such as property seizure after 28 days.

UKHospitality said it is calling on the Government to urgently enact a moratorium on commercial landlord sanctions and debt enforcement for impacted businesses.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive officer of UKHospitality, said: “The reality is that this is a critical week for bars and restaurants – and another incredibly difficult one.

“Our analysis suggests the quarter rent day for bars and restaurants is worth billions of pounds.

“This is money that simply isn’t in the system and most businesses cannot pay.”

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