The Arch Company is proud to publish today its ‘Tenants’ Charter: Two Years On’ report which outlines the action taken by the company this year to continue supporting, growing and improving the arches community.
Figures published in the report reveal that 1,550 small independent businesses were supported by The Arch Company’s £11m Hardship Fund during the pandemic which helped to ensure that occupancy remained stable at 3,800 across the estate.
Managing Director, Adam Dakin, said: “We said at the beginning of the pandemic that we wanted to help ensure that the dynamic small businesses that are the heart of the arches, and so vital to the economy, were given the best chance of survival. Thanks to the resilience of those businesses, and support from the government and us, we have been able to retain the same number of businesses and charities – approximately 3,800 – as we had before the pandemic and help preserve the vibrant arches community.
“We are proud of the progress we have made so far. We have continued our commitment to act sensitively on changes in rental values by having an explicit policy that considers a longstanding small business customer’s ability to pay. We also announced Project 1000 to invest £200m to bring 1,000 previously empty and derelict arches into use by 2030.”
Federation of Small Businesses National Chair, Mike Cherry, said: “The past year has been incredibly difficult for small businesses, as they’ve worked hard to get back on their feet and get the economy back up and running again.
“With increasing costs of doing business and loan repayments underway, rent payments will have been hanging heavy on the minds of small business owners. The Arch Company has worked with its tenants hit hard by the pandemic, providing more than 1,550 tenants with three months free rent under its Hardship Fund, and giving many more the flexibility around their payments.
“Two years on since the launch of its ‘Tenants’ Charter’, the Arch Company has continued to prove it is on the side of small businesses. At FSB we have enjoyed working with The Arch Company team on their plans. We hope that other landlords look to the Arch Company as an exemplar of how to work with small business tenants in a positive way.”
Of the 44 commitments outlined in The Tenants’ Charter, 34 commitments have either been completed or are part of company’s ongoing customer service standards. Progress has been made on the other commitments and in many cases The Arch Company has gone further than what it originally set out to do, not least because of the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Beyond the 1,550 businesses which received at least three months’ rent free, hundreds more received other forms of financial support including rent deferrals, the option to draw down deposit funds and more flexibility around payment schedules and rent review discussions. The company is now working closely with those who have covid-related rental arrears to agree sustainable repayment plans.
When it published its Tenants’ Charter in October 2019, The Arch Company worked with its customers and their representative groups, including Guardians of the Arches and the FSB, to develop 44 specific commitments to improve service delivery and bring empty arches into use.
Additional achievements mentioned in the report include:
- Welcoming 319 new customers to the estate over the past year
- Achieving a 92% customer retention rate, up from 89% under previous ownership
- A doubling of property and site management field staff over two and a half years to reduce caseloads and better respond to customers’ needs
- Providing sixteen community grants to support Arch Day 2021 as part of a wider #loveyourlocalarches campaign to help raise the profile of arch based businesses