Star Pubs & Bars ‘providing rent relief on individual basis’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Payment delay: rent collection has been suspended until at least June or when pubs reopen (photo by Colin Watts on Unsplash)
Payment delay: rent collection has been suspended until at least June or when pubs reopen (photo by Colin Watts on Unsplash)

Related tags: Coronavirus

Pub company Star Pubs & Bars is giving rent relief to its licensees on a pub-by-pub basis because it believes this will ensure its sites do well in the future.

In addition, the business is suspending the collection of the revised rent until June at the earliest, or when the pubs reopen.

This follows its announcement last month (18 March) that it was suspending the collection of rent and associated charges from its leased and tenanted pubs until at least the end of April.

On the announcement of rent relief, Star Pubs & Bars managing director Lawson Mountstevens said: “We are, and will, continue to do as much as we can to help our pubs.

“In addition to all the Government’s support and grants to help cover rent, salaries and other fixed costs, Star Pubs & Bars will provide rent relief to pubs on an individual basis and will suspend the collection of the revised rent until at least June, or until pubs reopen.

“Once the restrictions are lifted, we want to see all our pubs open, trading and operating as viable businesses as soon as possible.

“We know the rent relief we are providing on a pub-by-pub basis, which represents a significant investment on behalf of Star Pubs & Bars, during challenging times for the whole industry, will have a significant bearing on the future sustainability of our licensees’ business and clearly, we want to see our pubs thrive in the long term.”

The Morning Advertiser ​spoke with Star licensees to get their opinions on the rent relief they have received.

David Hage runs two pubs with Star, along with this business partner Mark Osborne – the Railway in Lowdham, and the Radcliffe, in Radcliffe-on-Trent, both in Nottingham.

The Radcliffe will not receive a Government grant because its rateable value is above the threshold, however, the Railway will receive a £25,000 grant.

Hage told The Morning Advertiser​ that Star asked for 10% of the Radcliffe’s rent (annual rent of £55,000) and 50% of the Railway’s rent (annual rent £75,000).

Grant payment

He added: “Of the Covid-19 support the Government has given the industry, half of [the grant] we receive we will use to bankroll the furloughed staff until the portals are set up, but now [Star Pubs & Bars] is asking for half of that money to go straight to them.

“It feels like they are profiteering from the goodwill of the Government. They want half that money from two pubs that are closed. We took the decision to remain closed and not do takeaways to keep the staff safe but we’ve got no turnover coming in.

“My business partner and I have families and we have got no money coming in either. We are directors, nothing from a self-employed point of view.

“It's utterly heartbreaking. We see all these other landlords and pub companies that are either deferring rents or not charging tenants at all but Star Pubs & Bars are saying they want 50% of a pub that's not taking any money.

“We have still got to factor in that, over the next three months, we need to find £9,000 just to keep paying for things. We have just done one bankroll of £16,000 with another one to pay next week of £16,000 without the Government portal set up. This grant was to pay for that.”

The Faulkner pub in Hoole, Cheshire tweeted yesterday (8 April) about its 50% rent, offered by Star Pubs & Bars.

It said: "Absolutely shocked and disgusted at the way Star Pubs & Bars has treated us today. They are demanding 50% rent plus other associated costs to be paid each week from 20 March, despite no income."

Alex Cook, operator of the Mill in Stokesley, North Yorkshire, received a 90% discount off his rent and was happy with the support received from the pubco.

He said: “For the seven years I have been involved with Star, they have been phenomenal from start to finish and it hasn’t changed at all from this point.

“They have taken their time to get back to us but this is such a huge problem, it’s going to take time to sort out. I'm very pleased with what they have done and how they have treated us – 90% seems very fair to me, given the fact I live on-site and I can still trade as a takeaway anyway.

“It’s time for me to be a bit creative and make some money. The people that own the pubs are still businesses as well and the reason people have received the grants is to pay these other people (rent) so the economy stacks up.

“One of the risks of being in business is you do face these challenges, it’s how you adapt and get around it.”

Communication

Hossey Saghri, from the Mug House in Bewdley, Worcestershire, posted on LinkedIn how he has been supported by Star Pubs & Bars.

The post said: “In November 2019, I bought a leased pub in Bewdley, Worcestershire. I could not have been made more welcome by my landlords, my fantastic customers and my brilliant staff. The have all been very supportive.

“The business was going from strength to strength until early February when we were confronted with the floods, the worst for more than 20 years. Although trade was affected, we were very lucky as we stayed dry and managed to keep our heads above water.

“After just over four months of trading, we have now had to close our doors along with pubs up and down the country.

“So to my point, I really did land on my feet taking out a Star Pubs & Bars lease. They could not have been more sympathetic and have continued in the same vein over the past couple of weeks.

“Star has regularly kept me up to date with regular communication through my BDM, offering support where they can.

“Today (8 April), I received another call from my BDM with some more great news: my rent has been reduced during the pub closure and the concession is more than I had hoped.

“In the current uncertain future our trade is in, I’d like to say a big thank you to Star Pubs & Bars: please continue with the brilliant work.”

Related topics: Star Pubs & Bars

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