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Fri 17th Apr 2020 - Downey to submit sector rent-free proposal to government
Downey to submit sector rent-free proposal to government: Jonathan Downey, chief executive of London Union and founder of the Hospitality Union initiative, has said he will submit a formal proposal to the Treasury next week for a nine-month rent-free period for businesses forced to close because of the coronavirus outbreak. The proposal will be signed by sector chief executives, senior sector figures and backed by UK Hospitality. It will set out the reasoning for pushing back rent from April-December 2020, so that operators will not have to pay until the first quarter of next year. The proposal will also seek to ensure that landlords don’t lose out, and highlight that each lease would then be extended by nine months, effectively postponing the payment of rent until operators are able to pay. Downey’s #NationalTimeOut proposal will also cover landlords themselves, applying a corresponding nine-month period on their loan repayments where the debt is secured on premises benefiting from the rent postponement. Downey said: “I have been asked to submit a formal proposal to the Treasury on the idea and implementation and I should have this done by Monday. The proposal will be signed by chief executives and other senior figures from our industry. I will also be seeking support from the Music Venues Trust, the NTIA, UK Active and any other industry body whose members would benefit. We have to find a way to make this work for everyone and, although it’s early stages, it feels like this could be an answer. So many in our sector will need something extraordinary to get through the next few months and to make it worthwhile to carry on after. I don’t know if we’ll get this but it won’t cost government anything and nobody has come up with a better plan yet to help more businesses. Hospitality is a special case because we were hit first and hardest and because physical distancing measures plus fear of the virus will continue to affect our businesses well into 2021 and possibly beyond. It’s why we need a #NationalTimeOut and a nine month #NationalRentFree.” UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls told Propel: “The challenging of managing ongoing rent and costs while closed and with no revenue for the foreseeable future remains the last big challenge facing the sector. With many businesses finding they are not eligible for grants or loans, action here will be vital if we are to ensure that businesses survive not just the lockdown but the recovery too. We recognise that property owners have bills to pay too but hospitality operators cannot possibly or reasonably be expected to foot the entire bill of lockdown. We all have an interest in saving and preserving jobs, companies and the landscape of our towns and cities, and that means we all need to participate in finding meaningful, equitable solutions to the problem.”

Competition watchdog revokes ban on and Just Eat integration: Just Eat Takeway has been given the go-ahead to integrate the two food delivery businesses after the UK’s competition watchdog revoked an order to keep the firms separate. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issued an initial enforcement order in January, which prevented the two food delivery firms from integrating their businesses. Amsterdam-based bought Just Eat earlier this year following a bidding war with South African rival Prosus. However, the CMA launched a last minute probe into the merger in January over concerns that it could damage competition in the marker. The regulator said yesterday that it is continuing to assess the tie-up, but that “based on the evidence it has received in its assessment of the transaction to date, it is appropriate to revoke the initial enforcement order”. It said it had not decided “whether it is or may be the case that a relevant merger situation has been created and whether the creation of that situation has resulted or may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition in any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services”.

Whitbread reports acceptance under CCFF rules: Whitbread has announced that it has been confirmed as an eligible issuer under the UK government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF). The company added: “Whitbread has not currently issued any commercial paper from this programme. In addition to this facility, as at 16 April the business has accessible cash reserves of c.£400 million and access to £900 million of its existing committed Revolving Credit Facility (RCF).”

FPA issues new guidelines on handling foodservice packaging: The Foodservice Packaging Association has issued new guidelines to ensure takeaways exercise the best hygiene practices in handling food packaging. It said packaging should be stored in a secure and dry facility that can only be accessed by takeaway staff. It must always be stored above the ground, and must never be in contact with the floor. This includes the box the packaging is placed in. Takeaway employees should read the packaging’s storage instructions on the outer transit packaging and abide by them. Packaging should be left in the inner, non-porous plastic sleeve until just prior to service and should be handled with gloves that are changed regularly and/or handled with clean, washed, sanitised hands. All packaging should be disposed of responsibly.

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