// Frasers Group property chief Michael Murray accuses Westfield of resisting turnover-based rental agreements
// Murray also expects Frasers Group to axe scores of shops as a result of the coronavirus crisis
Frasers Group’s property chief has said Westfield bosses have “their heads in the clouds” after accusing them for resisting turnover-based rental agreements.
According to The Sunday Times, Michael Murray – who runs the property arm of Frasers Group and happens to be the future son-in-law of the company’s founder Mike Ashley – said Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield did not comprehend the scale of disruption plaguing retail due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Murray said Westfield’s alleged lack of flexibility risks turning their shopping centres across the US and Europe – including two in London – into “ghost towns”.
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Frasers Group, which was known as Sports Direct International up until a name change late last year, had reportedly offered to pay 50 per cent of rent during the lockdown.
On a long term basis though, Murray wanted to link rents to store sales because the old leasing model was “finished”.
He told The Sunday Times that Westfield was resisting such measures.
However, Westfield insisted it was working collaboratively with retailers and that 38 tenants had agreed to take larger shops in the past two years.
While the pandemic has forced retailers such as Cath Kidston, Debenhams, Laura Ashley, Oasis and Warehouse Group and Brighthouse to permanently shut down swathes of stores after falling into administration, several others appear to be on shaky ground.
Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia retail empire has reportedly served notice that could see it permanently close hundreds of stores, John Lewis has indicated not all of its stores will reopen after lockdown, Argos is set for closures, and Carphone Warehouse has shut all of its standalone stores.
According to The Sunday Times, Murray expects Frasers Group to axe scores of shops as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
Frasers Group recorded profits of £179.2 million on sales of £3.7 billion in 2019 and operates 900 stores in the UK, comprising of high street chains Sports Direct, House of Fraser, Jack Wills, Evans Cycles, and several others.