May 15, 2020
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Savile Row tailors seek rent relief as crisis continues

May 15, 2020

Tailors in London Savile Row have become the latest group of under-pressure retailers to call for rent reductions on their stores.

Savile Row tailors are under heavy pressure

While this sees them joining a host of British retailers asking for the same concessions, it's particularly important for the street that's known for its ultra-high-end traditional tailoring. Savile Row is a key destination for affluent shoppers visiting London and is also something of a tourist attraction with its status as the home of tailoring an important part of the overall package that makes the West End of London stand out. The opening of the lavish Hackett townhouse there late last year underlined that appeal.

The street has been under pressure for some time with relatively low margins, the rise of relaxed dress codes, higher business rates and rising rents all conspiring against it.

Now a number of suit-makers on the street are asking for rent cuts and greater flexibility over payment terms.

“There is a feeling among Savile Row’s bespoke members that the rents are very high,” William Skinner, chairman of the Savile Row Bespoke Association and managing director of Dege & Skinner, told Property Week. “We’ll be talking to our landlord about a readjustment in our levels of rent”.

But he added that his firm’s landlord has been sympathetic. “A lot of us who are in Savile Row actually share the same landlord, who has been very generous so far and certainly very flexible on the March quarter,” he explained.

The Pollen Estate is the biggest landlord in the area and has been mulling rent-free periods, rent deferments and monthly rents for reopening businesses. Its property director Julian Stocks told the trade paper that “looking at rents in the future, I’m guided by supply and demand. If the demand isn’t there, then we can’t charge as high rents. Given the retail landscape, that’s where we are going to be, so naturally we will be listening”.

But whether that deals with the fundamental problems facing businesses on the street is open to question. Recent periods have seen Hardy Amies, Chester Barrie and Kilgour either closing completely or exiting the street. And there are fears that after the crisis is over, if tailors can't afford the rents and if other retailers with deeper pockets are prepared to move in, the character of the street could change forever.

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