The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has welcomed a One Year On update of The Arch Company’s Tenants’ Charter, after it showed that occupancy levels have been maintained through the COVID-19 pandemic.
1,350 small independent tenants most severely affected by the pandemic received a three-month rent-free period when the crisis hit in the Spring, and many hundreds more have received other forms of financial support. There are around 3,800 mainly small businesses operating in the arches across England and Wales – the same number as a year ago – employing approximately 25,000 people.
Adam Dakin, Managing Director of The Arch Company, hailed the resilience of small businesses in coping with the economic crisis, and the community role played by so many tenants.
Federation of Small Businesses National Chair, Mike Cherry, said: “One year on from the launch of the Arch Company’s ‘Small Business Charter’, it has proven to be a huge success, despite the significant and very real financial problems faced by many over the course of this year.
“With profits in freefall, a collapse in footfall and businesses reliant on grants and loans, one of the biggest worries for small firms is usually the rent. But the Arch Company, through its charter, has managed to weather the Covid-storm in exemplary fashion. They worked with their tenants by offering rent holidays and payment deferrals and various other options which allowed businesses to survive and safeguard jobs.
“The Arch Company are a leading example of how to work with small businesses, engaging in a way that is beneficial to both sides. I hope many other landlords and businesses will use this model from the Arch Company to work on better landlord-tenant agreements which can have very real and positive outcomes if done in the right way.”
Managing Director of The Arch Company, Adam Dakin, said: “It’s been a tough year for small businesses but those in the arches have shown incredible resilience. Our targeted financial support has helped retain nearly all of our 3,800 businesses, helping to keep over 25,000 people employed across our properties. Our focus remains on retaining and supporting as many of them as possible, as well as encouraging new businesses to join the portfolio.
“Many of the small businesses in our arches have innovated and pivoted to offer online sales and services during the pandemic. They’ve also played a vital role in their communities, going the extra mile to support local people, raise funds and provide other forms of support for the NHS, and to offer food parcels for vulnerable people living in their area. We’re proud of the contribution our tenants have made, despite the challenges they’ve faced during the pandemic.”
- Forest Road Brewery in Hackney pivoted to offer online sales and delivery and raised thousands for the NHS by creating a new ‘Stay at Home’ beer and donating a portion of sales
- Honest Crust Pizzas in Manchester supported the award-winning Eat Well Manchester project, producing meals for frontline NHS staff, vulnerable families and local people who are homeless
- One Night Records launched the city’s first-ever ‘Covid-secure’ immersive music venue in Southwark in October, with its first run of shows named ‘Lockdown town’ providing a lifeline for more than 300 performance artists and musicians
- FareShare and the NHS secured free space to support their work during the pandemic, with the food charity delivering food supplies to thousands of vulnerable people across London from two arches in Deptford, whilst London Ambulance Service stored vital PPE supplies in their arches
- Warwickshire Gin Company took on an extra arch rent free in March so they could shift production at their new distillery and produce 10,000 bottles of hand sanitiser, which they delivered to local GP surgeries, care homes and frontline workers
- Baked by Steph in Bethnal Green is a new tenant who moved into their arch in August 2020 to expand its team and operations to meet demand for its cookies and baked products, including an order for 10,000 cookies from high-end jewellery brand Tiffany and Co.
The Tenants’ Charter was published in October 2019 and set out 44 commitments that The Arch Company, the country’s largest landlord of small businesses, made to tenants. The One Year On document summarises progress made, with an appendix reporting against each of the 44 commitments.