Owner of Norwich's Royal Arcade claims: 'We've already slashed rents'

PUBLISHED: 16:11 25 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:11 25 June 2019

The Royal Arcade in Norwich now has seven empty units

The Royal Arcade in Norwich now has seven empty units Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

The owner of Norwich's landmark Royal Arcade has refused to drop rents for struggling shop owners claiming the bills were slashed just two months ago.

Bosses at insurance giant Legal & General broke their silence declaring they have revised rents this year and are now working to get business rates reduced as well.

Until now the firm has remained silent amid calls from traders, the council and the public for help in keeping the historic shopping venue prosperous

MORE: Calls to 'save the jewel in Norwich's crown' as flagship store reveals it could quit Royal Arcade

It comes as seven out of 15 units currently stand empty. Meanwhile it's feared flagship store Langleys could quit the Royal Arcade.

Matt Jarvis, fund manager at Legal & General, said: "In the face of unprecedented high street retail conditions, Legal & General has been working closely with and supporting its retailers at the Royal Arcade in order to ensure that it remains a vibrant, successful and sustainable shopping environment.

"As an owner, we believe that the only way to achieve this is through a collaborative and transparent approach to working with our occupiers, making sure that we are in touch with fast changing on the ground conditions.

"As such, in April we reviewed all leases to make sure that they were in line with the market, offering a rental adjustment or reduction wherever this was not the case. We did not have to do this - but it was one way we felt we could support small businesses in the current market."

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He went on to add the firm had appointed a rating surveyor to help argue for a reduction in business rates and bring down total overheads. He stated they would be opening up a "positive dialogue" with the city council.

A spokeswoman from the city council said they were currently "no further forward" but they were in talks with Legal & General over the issue.

Retailers in the arcade face rents of around £36,000 for a single unit plus rates of around half that as well as service charge.

Last week Paul Kendrick, city council cabinet member for resources, said: "It is a difficult time for the retail sector and we would urge Legal & General to drop its rents for the tenants and save the jewel in Norwich's crown."

Langleys' managing director Steve Scott said he had "raised his concerns" to legal giant Legal & General a year ago but was ignored and so began plans to develop another store, out of the arcade, scheduled to be open in September.

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