// Boots accused of using the UK’s moratorium on evictions as cover for lease renegotiations
// The majority of its 2000 stores remained open during lockdown
// Landlords have said Boots is withholding rents and service charges
Boots has reportedly been accused of using the UK’s moratorium on evictions amid the Covid-19 pandemic as cover for ongoing lease renegotiations.
The majority of its 2000 stores remained open during lockdown after being deemed an essential retailer, and according to several landlords, Boots is withholding rents and service charges.
The government in April banned UK commercial property owners from pursuing evictions of non-paying tenants, and last week extended the scheme until the end of December.
Although Boots is not alone in seeking rent cuts, but landlords have criticised Boots’ “unethical and unpalatable” attitude to a previous consensual approach, Financial Times reported.
Boots said it was “continuing discussions with larger commercial landlords on options for rental and service charge payments”.
Although stores remained open, Boots said footfall across its estate had reduced and trading has been “severely impacted”.
In the three months to the end of May, the company reported a 48 per cent year-on-year decline in same-store retail sales.
Pharmacy sales fell one per cent, and the company said it was accelerating a restructuring plan that was likely to result in 4000 redundancies.
In May 2019, Boots said it will close about 200 mainly smaller stores, but 75 have shut so far.
“Whilst we have reached revised agreements with many landlords, where discussions are ongoing we have paused some payments as we look to agree fair and equitable solutions,” Boots said.