A new statement of intent issued to The MA comes after a band of distressed Tavern Propco tenants claimed to be facing severe financial pressures under the pubco, after it did not communicate plans for rent relief.
The pubco is owned by international property and asset management company Global Mutual, which acquired 370 sites from Ei Group last year for almost £350m.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and throughout lockdown, The MA understands tenants with the pubco were not offered any form of rent relief and were expected to continue paying, despite their venues being closed.
The asset management firm released a statement earlier, which can be seen in full below, saying it was currently “liaising with each tenant” on a one-to-one-basis.
However, near 150 of its operators claim they had not reached a realistic solution with the company, with one claiming Global Mutual was just “paying lip service” during conversations.
“The main issue we are facing is that they’ve [Global Mutual] been really disappointing in their stance, because they want all of the rent paying in full, but going around tenants saying they are supporting us, but also saying the rent has to be paid,” Martin Roper, licensee of The Rectory in Chesterfield told The MA.
Offers such as a 25% rent discount for the closure period had been made to a number of tenants, but only if arrears were paid within six months, added Roper, who says he has racked up £20,000 in unpaid rent with Global Mutual.
Understand the impact of lockdown
In a new statement made after offers of a 25% rent discount, Global Mutual said it wanted to understand the impact of the lockdown and how long the situation would last to ensure that any support packages it developed were sustainable and appropriate.
“We understand that engaging with our tenants individually might be more time consuming than offering a group wide solution, however, we want to ensure we respect each pub tenant and the needs of their individual business,” Global Mutual said.
“Our pub specialists are working with our tenants on a one-to-one basis to fully understand their specific needs and concerns to develop personalised solutions and recovery plans.”
The pubco also said it had offered rent-free periods to all of its independent tenants, not just deferrals.
More than a third of tenants, it added, have been spoken to in a bid to find what Global Mutual calls workable, tailored solutions, with all operators expected to be communicated to by the end of August.
About 150 tenants paying rent to Tavern Propco recently came together as a group to discuss the issue, Roper explained, from which they discovered that some – perhaps one or two – tenants had agreed their lockdown rent arrears would be erased.
Global Mutual’s original statement also highlighted that many of its tenants were able to take advantage of Government grants and other state-funded financial support, such as the furlough scheme.
However, Roper, who owns three other pubs with three different pubcos, said he did not receive a grant.
“We’re coming out of this with accrued debt, with facilities bills, and they’re [Global Mutual] expecting full rent,” said Roper. “I’ve written to them twice and they’ve not acknowledged that.”
Rent wiped off
The group is fighting to have rent for the closure period wiped off as well as a post-opening support package developed, taking into account the additional expenses operators are incurring to ensure their venues are safe for staff and customers.
Global Mutual’s original full statement said: “Global Mutual has a diverse portfolio of assets including pubs covered by a variety of commercial lease agreements.
“We understand our tenants are affected particularly badly by the pandemic and are experiencing significant personal and business stress in this global crisis.
“Our overall aim is to help these businesses to find ways to survive the crisis and then go on to thrive again.
“The pub businesses in the portfolio are very disparate, ranging from food-led rural pubs with seasonal variations to town centre bars and inner-city nightclubs.
“Each pub has received varying levels of Government support during the pandemic. The Global Mutual management team includes pub specialists who are working with our tenants to fully understand their specific needs and concerns.
“Thanks to these unique elements and the different types of operation, our pub specialists are liaising with each tenant on a one-to-one basis, to reach personalised solutions and recovery plans.
“These are fully aligned with the standards set out in the Code of Practice for commercial property relationships and the extension to the moratorium on forfeiture of commercial leases for non-payment of rent.”