Hospitality businesses must be granted rent forgiveness for periods they were shut during the lockdown periods or else the sector will see a wave of closures, trade bodies have warned.
In a Treasury Select Committee hearing, representatives from the travel, hospitality and retail sector said recovery from the easing of restrictions would not be sufficient to cover an estimated GBP5bn in overdue rent accrued during lockdowns.
A moratorium on commercial rents end of 1 July and UK Hospitality boss Kate Nicholls said a third of its members expect to receive rent demand as soon as the deadline passes, even if some remain shut.
“We have a very real problem on our hands if the moratorium is lifted without a resolution being put in place,” said Nicholls.
Helen Dickinson, head of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Here we are two weeks out from when the deadline is going to crystallise and we still don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Nicholls wants the government to endorse a scheme that will see landlords forgive up to 50% of pandemic debts, while Mark Tanzer, chief executive of travel trade body ABTA, wants a grant support scheme similar to those in place in the Netherlands and France that can mean up to 100% of revenues are covered.
The Restaurant Group PLC (LON:RTN), meanwhile said today that in the five weeks since outdoor dining was allowed at restaurants, Wagamama has seen its sites trade at around 85% of the sales levels seen in the same period of 2019, which the company claimed was roughly 15% better than the market as a whole.
Shares in RTN rose by 1.5% to 131.8p.