The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is braced to launch a campaign to ban upward-only rent reviews if its members demand it, after the Irish government scrapped the reviews this week.
The BRC is holding a meeting later this month to decide whether to take action. It said that while not all UK retailers seem to regard the issue as being as critical as their Irish counterparts do, if its members want action taken, it would begin a campaign.
The Irish government banned upward-only rent review clauses on Tuesday. The ban will come into operation on February 28 but will not work retrospectively. BRC head of property Beth Hinde said UK retailers have been more actively campaigning against quarterly rents, and upward-only rents have not been as high on the agenda as they were earlier in the decade.
She added that some retailers would not want upward-only rents to be abolished because there are “quite a few retailers big enough to do their own deals, who would be prepared to pay if it means they get the right properties”.
One major UK high street retailer regarded the idea of a ban in the UK as “an insane idea”. He said: “The cost of funding for new developments will go through the roof and starting rents would also be higher.”
But Hinde added that the Irish government’s action “might give UK retailers the impetus to regard it as a worthwhile cause”.
David Fitzsimmons, chief executive of lobbying group Retail Excellence Ireland, which campaigned against upward-only rent reviews, said that Ireland’s decision was a “major win” and represented a “major sea change” for retail. But he added that the majority of retailers are “locked into long-term upward-only leases”, meaning the legislation will have “no consequence whatsoever on their ability to keep trading”.
John Corcoran, who led the Grafton Street Tenants Association campaign to ban upward-only reviews, said: “We’re very happy. It’s a good story for the UK too,
if it works.”
Separately, the BRC has launched security guidelines for retailers and couriers in time for what BRC director-general Stephen Robertson described as the “peak robbery season”. Robertson said: “This is not just about pounds, but about people and the impact of a robbery or assault.” The guide can be downloaded free from the BRC’s website.