Billionaire’s pub company demands full rent during crisis
The Wellington Pub Company, owned by billionaire brothers the Reubens, has recently been accused of declining desperate pleas from their struggling pubs tenants for rent reduction during the coronavirus pandemic.
Unable to trade since March due to government restrictions, some of the pub group’s tenants have petitioned Wellington for relief from rents payable. However, their efforts to secure a rent reduction or payment holiday have been refused.
David and Simon Reubens are currently ranked second on the Sunday Times 2020 Rich List, with a total worth of £16 billion they also own the Wellington which boasts a 750-pub portfolio.
The pub group has allegedly awarded no concessions despite tenants’ fears they will be forced into bankruptcy.
Forum of British Pubs members, Nick Holden and Kate Ahrens, started renting the Geese and Fountain in Leicestershire’s Vale of Belvoir from Wellington in 2015. Interviewed by ITV News and the Guardian newspaper, Kate explained how she took on the pub and built it up after it had been vacant for years, often living on a shoestring budget.
The small financial progress the pub has made will now be swallowed by its lack of trade during lockdown and Wellington’s demand for rent. Kate added:
“And, you know, that fundamentally, that’s the choice I’m looking at, it’s either be completely skint for years or be completely bankrupt.”
The government code recently established to assist in disputes between tenants and landlords advises:
“Landlords should be willing to consider a reasonable case put forward by a tenant in such distress and whether some temporary arrangement the landlord can reasonably offer might enable the tenant to survive.”
The Forum campaigns for rents to be reduced
The Forum is actively campaigning for companies like this to support their tenants, understanding their key role in helping to relaunch the UK’s ailing economy.
The Forum contacted the six biggest pub groups, requesting they give tenants a rent holiday. Admiral Taverns have now taken steps to cancel rents during the crisis and we’re working to convince other companies to do the same.
Ian Cass, Managing Director of the Forum of British Pubs comments:
“The lack of positive action from property-owning landlords, the government and the Pubs Code Adjudicator is forcing the tenanted pub sector into a perilous state and it’s imperitive that we help these small businesses during this crisis.
In contrast, we’re also highlighting the outstanding support from many of the traditional local family brewers who are treating their tenants far better, cancelling debt and actively helping their tenants.”
Early signs of a successful outcome for everyone
Since the story was recently featured on ITV News, we’re pleased to report some positive progress.
In direct response to the ITV News coverage of Nick and Kate’s story and their issues with the Wellington Pub Company, Nick has received contact from a representative from Wellington, offering to look at the issues the programme highlighted around rent and also promising to improve communication going forward. We hope that Nick and Kate will be able to reach a solution with the company, which would be a great conclusion to this story!
We also hope that Wellington will now take this approach with their other 750 tenants, in the spirit of the government’s recently published code of practice for retailers and landlords, underpinned by the principle that you are “economic partners who help and support each other”.
Another welcome result of the national media coverage is that the Forum of British Pubs has been able to initiate ongoing direct dialogue with the Wellington Pub Company which, we hope, will encourage better communication and representation of our members in the future.
The Forum will continue to seek communication with other pub companies to help drive a genuine solution that will protect and support struggling pub tenants. We need many more voices, shouting as loud as possible, so please join us and tell us your story.
Become a member of the Forum or use the form below to sign up to our campaign for free today.