Budget retailer Primark has today reportedly refused to pay its rent bill after closing all of its stores due to the coronavirus pandemic, as fears mount that some retailers will never reopen after the outbreak.
Primark has written to landlords to tell them it would not meet its quarterly rent payment due on 110 leasehold stores.
The letter asks for landlords’ support to mitigate the financial impact of the coronavirus outbreak, according to industry magazine Drapers.
Retail landlord Intu, which owns Manchester’s Trafford Centre and the Lakeland shopping centre in Essex, only received a third of the rent it was due this week.
The shopping centre owner is set to reveal this week that the coronavirus pandemic, which sparked the closure of all non-essential retail, has dented its revenue, Sky News reported.
Meanwhile, the latest research showed that 20,620 stores could close permanently due to the pandemic and that 235,713 jobs could be lost, despite temporary supermarket hirings.
Under government lockdown rules announced on Monday evening, only essential retailers such as supermarkets and pharmacies were allowed to remain open.
However even essential retailers have had to close some branches and reduce opening hours. Sainsbury’s will reportedly temporarily close 12 stores at locations that have suffered a drop in footfall as people work from home.
Professor Joshua Bamfield, director at the Centre for Retail Research, said: “We expect large retail businesses to now be looking at exactly how many stores they expect to operate in 2021 and beyond in order to trade successfully moving forward.
“They will now make plans to achieve those objectives.”
The research said their could be a moderate recovery once stringent lockdown measures are lifted with a possible “splurge of cash by late summer”.