This comes after tenants told The Morning Advertiser of their despair about the pub group’s lack of communication amid the coronavirus outbreak.
At that time, The Morning Advertiser made repeated attempts to contact the pub group for a response to the licensee’s concerns but did not receive anything by the time of publication.
Wellington Pub Company, which has more than 700 pubs, is owned by the Reuben Brothers and managed by Criterion Asset Management. In May 2019, The Sunday Times Rich List estimated the family had a net worth of £18.66bn.
The group posted a statement on its website that said it wanted to work with its tenants and didn’t want to see them lose their businesses “solely due to the Covid-19 crisis”.
It added: “If it becomes clear, during the course of discussions with individual tenants they will be unable to meet their rental arrears arising during the lockdown period, then we will not look to pursue these.
“As part of these discussions, we will seek to support our tenants offering a three-month rent-free period, as appropriate.
“We have an incredibly broad range of tenants across our estate of differing size and scale, which is why a case-by-case approach is required.”
However, the statement also added that as a business, it had “obligations in the form of a securitisation for which, payments must be made quarterly”.
The updated statement in full said:
We wholly appreciate the anxiety and indeed the concern shared by publicans across the country. We value every single one of our tenants and are determined to work with them through this unprecedented crisis.
We have already confirmed Wellington will not be taking any action with regard to rent arrears that may have arisen since the start of the Covid-19 crisis and the shutdown of businesses across the UK.
We can also confirm, post this crisis, we will work with our tenants on an individual basis to support them and agree a mutually satisfactory outcome that keeps pubs open and our tenants successfully in business.
As you can appreciate, this is a challenging target but we can assure you we have a dedicated and experienced team in Criterion, which is committed to working hard and supporting our tenants through this crisis.
As such, we want to take this opportunity to be absolutely clear that we want to work together with our tenants as we do not want to see them lose their business solely due to the Covid-19 crisis.
If it becomes clear, during the course of discussions with individual tenants that they will be unable to meet their rental arrears arising during the lockdown period, then we will not look to pursue these.
As part of these discussions we will seek to support our tenants by offering a three-month, rent-free period, as appropriate.
We have an incredibly broad range of tenants across our estate of differing size and scale, which is why a case-by-case approach is required.
Wellington Pub Company, as a business, also has obligations in the form of a securitisation for which, payments must be made quarterly.
Just like our tenants, we eagerly await further news from Government in respect of when restrictions to the industry will be lifted.
We hope this gives everyone some comfort to plan ahead and build for the future.