Shaftesbury boss: The relaxation of pandemic restrictions will herald the revival of the West End’s economy

Joanna Bourke
·2-min read
<p>Part of Shaftesbury’s estate is in Chinatown in the West End</p> (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Part of Shaftesbury’s estate is in Chinatown in the West End

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The chief executive of Central landlord Shaftesbury has said the relaxation of lockdown rules will “ herald the revival of the West End’s economy” in the months ahead.

Brian Bickell was speaking in the same week the government said non-essential retailers can look to start welcoming customers back to stores from April, and the hospitality sector will reopen between then and in the following month.

Chinatown and Carnaby Street landlord Shaftesbury today said so far it has collected 45% of rent due for the quarter to December 31, and 36% of January 2021 rents have been collected to date.

The firm, like rivals, has seen bars, restaurants and shops temporarily close across the estate at various points for Covid-19 lockdowns. That has impacted the ability of some tenants to pay rent.

Shaftesbury has agreed a number of rent changes where needed, including waivers and deferrals. Since October it has offered monthly, rather than quarterly, rent collections on a permanent basis.

Bickell said: “The relaxation of pandemic restrictions will herald the revival of the West End’s economy in the months ahead, with a gradual return of local and domestic footfall and the reopening of hospitality businesses, shops and its world-renowned cultural and leisure attractions.”

He added: “Our strategy of supporting the survival and reopening of our existing hospitality and retail businesses is aimed at ensuring our locations will be animated, interesting and welcoming for returning customers. Our portfolio is located in the heart of the most vibrant part of London and we are optimistic that the appeal of our carefully-curated destinations will drive the return of footfall and trading.”

The landlord has seen an increase in the number of vacant small office suites, as the government continues to advise people to work from home where possible.

However, the firm added that it is “currently seeing occupier interest and expect our flexible and affordable office space to continue to attract demand as the workforce returns to the West End”.

On a encouraging note from the business, it said in recent months it has seen an increase in occupier interest, particularly from restaurateurs who are looking to open into recovering footfall later in 2021.

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