WHSmith requests rent decrease from landlords

Published on: 13th August 2020

The move comes following the announcement of some 1,500 upcoming job cuts.

WHSmithThe retailer WHSmith has demanded that landlords cut its rent as it continues to battle with the fallout from coronavirus. Property adviser Gerald Eve has been drafted in to negotiate money-saving deals, reports indicate.

With many retail landlords struggling with non-payment of rent by tenants, the demand hasn’t been well received; some landlords have told The Sunday Times that WHSmith is using the threat of a CVA as leverage against them to agree favourable terms, or was attempting to make deals on an ad hoc basis, including payment holidays. WHSmith has denied these claims, telling The Sunday Times that a CVA was not “actively being pursued” nor used as a threat.

Like many other retailers, WHSmith has found itself at the mercy of store closures and reduced footfall due to Covid-19, and recently announced that around 1,500 jobs are to be cut in order to streamline the business and reduce costs. As previously reported by Toy World, the bulk of the job losses, which amount to about 11% of WHSmith’s 14,000-strong global workforce, are expected to be in the travel division, which includes stores at airports and rail stations. Sales in the division fell 92% in the first month of lockdown and were still down by three-quarters in July, even after restrictions were eased. In the High Street division, sales were still 25% down in July after lockdown eased, and revenue across the group was down by 57% in July compared with 2019.

The retailer also said its loss before tax is likely to reach between £70m and £75m for the year ending 31st August.


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