It’s not the most glamorous of subjects, but service charge is one of the areas where retailers have been paying through the nose for decades. Finally, it seems, landlords are willing to have a serious conversation about it.
Retailers will delight in any plan to save them money in these tight times, so to hear last week that landlords now have a blueprint for saving costs by up to 20 per cent is all good news.
The 10-point plan issued last week by the working group is thorough and detailed and, reassuringly, has been written by retailers as well as landlords. But the real test is still to come.
We need to wait and see if all landlords will demonstrate that they have the same good intentions and if the landlords that did take part in the pilot scheme will deliver across the rest of their portfolios.
You will have had a nice surprise if you heard the Prudential head of UK asset management Peter Best on Radio 4’s Today Programme this morning, pledging to drive down charges - which proves that at the very least the plan has got the matter on the agenda - but unless you are in one of the four centres in the pilot scheme your costs haven’t changed one penny.
10-point plans are a great place to start, but what retailers need to see are real results in their bottom lines. The only way this will work is if landlords have the initiative to take on board the guidelines in their own schemes.
The PR part of the exercise has worked; now the real work needs to begin.