Boxpark's Roger Wade: 'You cannot sit in your ivory tower and collect your cheque'
— 26 Mar 2020, 14:00
Boxpark CEO Roger Wade has said that to ensure SME’s survive the coronavirus lockdown, landlords must work together with tenants and make sacrifices.
Following the decision to close its four London sites last Friday (20 March), the business immediately informed tenants that they would not have to pay any rent or service charge throughout the closure period.
“Our biggest concern is our tenants because a lot of them are operating hand to mouth from one month to the next and the prospect of months with no cash would mean a lot of them wouldn’t survive,” Wade explained.
“It was only right to make sure they didn’t have to worry about the rent. We didn’t wait for the rest of the industry, we sent a letter to them within an hour of the Government announcement.”
And it is this sort of action, Wade said, that other landlords should be taking if they can.
“You cannot sit there in your ivory tower and expect to collect your cheque,” he said. “Everyone has to play their part and make sacrifices, and if we all adopt the attitude that we’re all in this together then we’ll come out of this together.”
In another move to support its tenants, Boxpark has offered brands support in transforming to a temporary takeaway and delivery-led operation, but Wade said that the uptake has been limited.
Lack of demand, health and safety of staff and the requirements for the Government salary grant scheme – staff must have completely stopped working to qualify – has led the business to consider halting operations entirely.
“I’m not sure that it’s an essential service that we need to run at the moment,” Wade explained. “We need to think about our staff and whether the risk and reward of doing that is justified so we’re currently re-evaluating it.”
Having carried out best-case (three month closure) and worst-case (12 month closure) scenarios, he said that the Boxpark brand is in a strong enough financial position to survive through a year without income.
“We’re in the fortunate position of being financially strong,” he said. “Boxpark will survive this, I haven’t got any doubts about that. But our first concern is our individual traders, we’re here to try and help them as best we can, and that’s why we’ve put in place the measures that we have.”