Coronavirus: Philip Day inserts pandemic clauses into Bonmarché leases

Bonmarche administration peacocks philip day Edinburgh Woollen Mill
Bonmarche was bought out of administration by Peacocks in November
// Edinburgh Woollen Mill will insert pandemic clauses into the new leases on Bonmarche stores
// The group’s owner Philip Day also owns Peacocks – the company that bought Bonmarche out of administration
// The clauses mean EWM can agree on new Bonmarché store leases without having to pay any rents upfront until lockdown ends

Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) is reportedly inserting pandemic clauses into the new leases it is due to sign with landlords on Bonmarché stores – the retailer its owner Philip Day bought out of administration last year.

The clauses mean EWM can agree on new Bonmarché store leases without having to pay any rents upfront until the government-mandated lockdown is lifted and non-essential stores can reopen.

The new initiative also means the company will be refunded any rent payments by landlords, should another pandemic hit in the future.


The clauses are only being added to new lease agreements with landlords for Bonmarché stores, Retail Week reported.

Bonmarche said landlords were keen to sign the leases right away, but “it wouldn’t be right for Bonmarche to sign leases with an immediate start date given that all the stores are shut”.

As a result, the company found some “legal language” which allows it to sign now, but it has ensured that the clauses don’t kick in until restrictions are lifted.

“Where we are currently signing new leases for Bonmarche stores, we have agreed with landlords a new pandemic clause,” a Bonmarche spokesperson said.

“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 Bonmarche and landlords so that new leases could be signed during this unusual period.”

In November, Day’s Peacocks – which is owned by EWM – bought Bonmarché out of administration, which resulted in the company closing 30 underperforming Bonmarché stores by December.

Bonmarché fell into administration in October, putting around 2900 jobs at risk.

Specialist advisory firm FRP was appointed as administrators.

FRP said at the time that Bonmarche would continue to trade with no immediate job losses or store closures, as it assessed options to secure its future and search for a buyer.

Joint administrators Tony Wright, Alastair Massey and Phil Pierce also said the Peacocks deal was the “best opportunity to maximise returns for creditors and sell the business on a going concern basis”.

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  1. I doubt very much if this a “mutual” agreement with landlords. Why should landlords suffer any more than tenants for an event that is beyond their control. The industry as a whole needs to work together with the insurance industry and Government to put in place insurance cover against pandemic events that allows the rent cessor clause in leases to be expanded. The closest precedent for this is when terrorism cover and Pool Re were introduced back in the 90s.


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