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BLOG SITE OF SPIRITUALMAN, KEVILL DAVIES

Novelist. Author of APSARAS and tales from the beautiful Saigh Valley. First person to quantify spiritual values.

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Sunday, 3 July 2011

Demise of High Street shops

Recently Habitat has announced shop closures. They are not alone; others include Thorntons (chocolates), Jane Norman (fashion), TJ Hughes (Department Store), Carpetright (Carpets) and Moben Kitchens.
It's easy to list the names but behind each lies many human tragedies as people lose their employment and the community lose an asset. It is not a British problem, only. Where I live in a holiday village in southern Spain, bars and other shops are lying empty because of unrealistic rates demanded by the greedy landlords. Years ago property was cheap but in the last ten years prices have rocketed and so too have the rents, despite the fact that the season here only lasts three months in the year.
It's also easy to blame the general recession, but I believe the bigger, more specific, problem is excessively high rents based on inflated property values and stupidly high non-domestic rates imposed by local authorities to finance their profligate spending, including top salaries. I suffered this personally as a pub tenant. With regard to rents I believe there is another way.
Would it not stop widespread closures and the accompanying crises if commercial rents were a shared responsibility between the landlords and the shopkeeper? That an agreement is made whereby the landlord simply takes a percentage of the profit. In times of recession, the landlord receives a more modest return instead of nothing and in times of prosperity, may even profit by more than they would with a normal rent.
I can envisage that a landlord's reaction would be that the tenant couldn't be trusted to record the full profits. In the parnership I envisage, the trader, in exchange for more sensible rents must enter into an agreement to open up their accounts to a mutually acceptible accountant. Clearly this problem is worse with cash businesses.
Another problem would be if the landlord feared the trader was underperforming. There may be scope for introducing a minimum rental but the landlord ought to exercise more care in selecting his partners, bearing in mind the circumstances of the property and the trading district.

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