ashion chains Peacocks and Jaeger going into administration is another blow to the high street. The move means uncertainty for thousands of employees, and will be a headache for suppliers. Sad all round for those impacted. It also spells grim news for commercial property landlords in what has been a tough year for them too.
Plenty of talk this year has pointed to some landlords being coronavirus villains, chasing tenants for rents for periods when their shops and bars had to close, and not offering any support. Yes those landlords exist. But, there are plenty of other property owners that have taken a hit to their income, offering rent holidays and support to distressed occupiers. These landlords do exist.
The government in September extended a moratorium on business evictions, helping tenants until the end of 2020. That is aimed at helping businesses ride out the virus crisis, but property firms claim some companies refusing to pay rent are big and profitable.
Looking at Peacocks and Jaeger, landlords will now be on tenterhooks to hear what will happen.
The dream would be a bidder rescuing everything: jobs and shops. But there is a chance that if a buyer is found for both businesses a sale could be subject to a number of terms. Will any new buyer want all the stores? Will they want new rent terms? No and yes respectively, I suspect.
Jaeger has 76 stores and concessions, and Peacocks operates 423 shops. Among London-listed firms that have these brands across their estates are: NewRiver (14 Peacocks); Landsec (1 Peacocks, 7 Jaeger); Hammerson (1 Peacocks).
These of course only represent a tiny part across these landlord’s portfolios, but coupled with the Covid disruption these building owners are also facing, this is another headache.
The British Property Federation has pointed out on many occasions this year that many people have savings and pensions invested in commercial property. The BPF’s chief executive Melanie Leech today says: “It’s truly disappointing to hear more bad news from the high street, especially in the run up to Christmas, putting not only jobs but the pensions and savings invested in shops across the country at risk.”
For many employees across Britain, and retailers, restaurant operators and landlords, the lifting of the latest lockdown can’t come soon enough, as well as an update about the future of Jaeger and Peacocks.