The Global Mutual Tenants Association, a group formed by the tenants of the 202 pubs owned by hedge fund Global Mutual, will march on Whitehall tomorrow to deliver a letter to Small Firms Minister Paul Scully demanding that pressure be put on Global Mutual to offer rent relief to tenants who have suffered during the Covid pandemic. Despite the pubs being closed and numerous representations being made to Global Mutual, they are still insisting that their pub tenants pay rent for the lockdown period.
Dave Mountford, speaking on behalf of the Association said, “Notwithstanding the support of the Forum of British Pubs, our very reasonable requests have been rebuffed and this multi-million-pound company continues to make unreasonable and unsustainable rental demands on businesses that have been severely damaged by COVID and lockdown.”
The intransigence of Global Mutual is particularly frustrating as the reasons for the original purchase of the Pubs lies directly as a result of the terms of the Pubs Code, for which the Small Firms Minister is responsible. The Pub Code was introduced in 2014, but applies only to the larger Pubco’s, of which Mutual Global is not one.
“We believe that the behaviour of Global Mutual makes it clear that the Pubs Code should include any business that owns Pubs, however large or small, as it is clear to us that one of the unintended consequences of the legislation was the sale of large groups of Pubs to property companies who only interest is the sale of the Pubs for maximum return, which would always be alternative use as a Pub.,” added Dave Mountford.
The tenants will first march to the offices of Global Mutual formally to hand over a letter on behalf of all the tenants affected once again requesting some form of rental relief, in the same way that some of the large Pubco’s have extended to their tenants.
They will then move to Parliament to hand over a letter to Paul Scully requesting his involvement, requesting that he both intervene in the Global Mutual negotiations, and looks to extend the Pubs Code beyond just the larger Pubco’s.
In a statement to CLH News Global Mutual said “ We are very aware that all of our pub operators are affected particularly badly by the Covid 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 our 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. We are working closely with our 287 independent pub tenants to provide tailor-made solutions and financial support packages for their individual businesses. 90% of them have engaged with us and we have committed £4.4 million of support to date which has included rent free periods and payment plans.
Despite our offers of support, a small number of tenants are choosing to act as a group and refusing to communicate with us as individual businesses. We would encourage these tenants to work with us directly so that we can ensure they are provided with the financial assistance that is relevant to their unique business and commercial arrangements.”