Transport for London thanks SME tenants for supporting local communities

Transport for London (TfL) has thanked the many small and medium enterprises (SME) across its estate for continuing to support local communities during the coronavirus pandemic and performing a key role in helping the capital to recover.

Across its unique estate, TfL has around 2,500 tenants, 86 per cent of these are SMEs who have always played a vital part in London’s vibrant economy. Many are now looking to reopen their doors as lockdown measures begin to be eased. Throughout the last few months, businesses across London, including some of TfL’s tenants, have been adapting their business models during the crisis to continue offering their services to customers and the local community now and in the future.

Both Wave Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, located in Stamford Brook, and 58 Gin, located in Haggerston, have previously been recognised as part of the Small Business Saturday’s Small Biz 100. The former is now offering its customers the opportunity to sharpen their martial arts and self-defence skills online and the latter has been using its distillery to make hand sanitiser, providing it to emergency service providers as well as making it available for members of the public to purchase. Meanwhile, Adam Grooming Atelier, who had to shut their unit at Canary Wharf Tube station, are supporting the fundraising of NHS Charities Together by matching donations and offering a discount voucher to be used towards the customer’s next haircut when it reopens its doors. The Bike Shed in Shoreditch has also mobilised their community to create a distribution network of bikers across the UK, who were then able to collect PPE parts for assembly and deliver food and medicine to those who could not get it.

With many tenants across TfL’s estate set to reopen as lockdown measures ease, TfL has written to all businesses confirming how it will continue to support SME tenants across its estate. This includes confirmation that SMEs who are able to safely open will only pay half the normal rent for the next quarter (June to September 2020) and these tenants will also be given three months longer to pay. By offering a continued package of support, TfL is not only helping these businesses to survive and thrive, contributing to their local communities, but looking to secure and enhance the long-term revenue generated from its estate. This can then be reinvested into the transport network. Tenants can also focus on how best to thrive during these uncertain times and have the confidence to do so, rather than have additional unnecessary worries.

These measures also mean that qualifying tenants have a six-month cash flow holiday from rent payments, helping them to focus on paying their employees and ensuring that reopening is carried out safely. TfL will begin to move all its SME tenants from quarterly payments in advance to monthly payments in arrears, providing massive cash flow benefits for those businesses. Larger businesses across TfL’s estate will be offered bespoke support to help ensure they can build up their businesses again.

During the next few weeks, TfL’s property managers will also be in contact with all tenants to complete a Business Health Check. This will ensure that reopening is being undertaken safely and will allow TfL to understand what long-term support each business may need, based on their individual circumstances. Any tenants with outstanding arrears will continue to be given longer to pay while they return to normal, and TfL will work with them to mutually agree payment plans.

Deputy Mayor for Business, Rajesh Agrawal, said: “Small businesses across London face an unprecedented threat to their survival as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. TfL’s approach not only supports these businesses’ immediate need for financial assistance through a six-month cashflow holiday but also provides a more sustainable way for businesses to pay their rent.

“The Mayor and I are encouraging other landlords to follow TfL’s lead and focus on the long-term survival of London’s small businesses, which have such an important role to play in London’s dynamic economy – now and in the future.”

Dan Lovatt, Head of Property Management at TfL, said: “It is often said that the station is the heart of the community, and our tenants, both in and around our stations as well as in our arches across London, have done an amazing job in supporting the city and their local communities during these difficult times. We are pleased to be able to confirm this additional support today for our small and medium business tenants across London. Ultimately, we are only successful if our tenants are successful, and we want to do all we can to help them recover and thrive.”

Len Maloney, Director at Guardians of the Arches said: “As one of the largest landlords of SMEs in the UK, TfL is truly setting the pace in creating the financial certainty we urgently need to begin recovery.  Reaching out to its tenants and actively involving us, TfL is pioneering a new way for Landlords and Tenants to support one another in building a viable and sustainable future.  We are delighted by this announcement and proudly stand shoulder to shoulder as we all navigate this next chapter together.”

This package of practical business support is part of TfL’s wider strategy to ensure it can continue to secure and enhance the long-term revenue that its estate can generate.  As one of London’s largest landowners, with more than 1,000 retail units both inside London Underground stations and nearby, as well as 800 railway arches, TfL is keen to support new businesses where it can as they take the next steps, such as looking for their first bricks and mortar location.

Across its estate, TfL continues to invest in restoring its assets, so that it can continue to attract new businesses and stimulate further revenue generation. In the coming weeks, TfL will begin work, while following Government guidelines, on the refurbishment of the Grade II- listed Victoria Arcade to create a vibrant retail destination in the heart of Victoria. Heritage is at the forefront of the transformation and the arcade’s original and period features will be reinstated or replicated. The extensive upgrade, including new lighting and decoration, will also create six modern, larger commercial units suitable for a range of potential retailers, leading to an impressive space that complements the neighbourhood’s existing retail offering.

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