Edinburgh Woollen Mill is inserting pandemic clauses into the new leases it is signing with landlords on Bonmarché stores after it bought the retailer out of administration.
The new clauses mean the Philip Day-owned group, which also owns Peacocks, Jaeger and Jane Norman, can agree on new Bonmarché store leases without having to pay any rents upfront until the coronavirus lockdown is lifted and non-essential retail stores can reopen.
The clauses also mean, should another pandemic hit in future, rents will be paused and, in some cases, refunded by landlords until any future lockdowns are lifted.
Retail Week understands the pandemic clauses are only being added to new lease agreements with landlords for Bonmarché stores and will not be rolled out across EWM’s wider stable of brands.
Peacocks bought Bonmarché out of administration in late November. Bonmarché closed around 30 underperforming stores by December 11 but continued to trade from its remaining 285.
A Bonmarché spokesman said: “Where we are currently signing new leases for Bonmarché stores, we have agreed with landlords a new pandemic clause.
“The upshot of the clause is that new leases will start only when the stores can reopen and restrictions due to coronavirus are lifted.
“This was mutually agreed between Bonmarché and landlords so that new leases could be signed during this unusual period.”
Swedish fashion giant H&M has also been pushing landlords to insert pandemic clauses into new leases and introducing break clauses that would allow the retailer to walk away from stores should revenues not return to pre-coronavirus levels.