‘Mr West End’ goes to court over unpaid cafe rents

Wealthy landlord dubbed ‘Mr West End’ defying Government ban on aggressive hire assortment by taking authorized motion towards string of companies

Fight: Property mogul Asif Aziz is taking authorized motion

A rich landlord dubbed ‘Mr West End’ is defying the Government’s ban on aggressive hire assortment by taking authorized motion towards a string of Central London eating places, cafes and outlets. 

The property agency owned by mogul Asif Aziz – who controls an array of central London properties together with the Trocadero complicated – has filed claims towards its tenants although they are saying they can’t afford the hire whereas closed below Covid lockdown guidelines. 

Court paperwork seen by The Mail on Sunday present Criterion Capital has filed a £1.5million county court declare to get well hire from burger chain Five Guys and a £284,000 declare towards cafe chain Caffe Concerto. It has additionally filed a seven-figure declare to get well hire owed from a 3rd hospitality agency, which requested not to be named. 

All three of Criterion’s authorized claims had been made after the Government revealed a code of conduct for business hire negotiations in the course of the Covid disaster. 

The code says companies that can’t pay hire in full ought to ‘talk with their landlord and pay what they’ll’, and landlords ‘must also present assist to companies if they’re ready to accomplish that’. The Government has additionally banned landlords from issuing winding-up petitions and statutory calls for to get well excellent hire via a moratorium in place till the tip of March. But companies comparable to Five Guys and Caffe Concerto – which have been hit onerous by the steep decline in commerce from vacationers and office employees – really feel Criterion has not confirmed it’s keen to negotiate an inexpensive fee plan. 

Caffe Concerto director Stephano Borjak stated Criterion’s behaviour amounted to ‘harassment’ whereas the moratorium is in place. 

He added: ‘We have paid our hire in full and on time for 12 years. But now we’ve got solely been allowed to open for 3 months since final year, our landlord points a county court order towards us. It is totally unacceptable.’ 

In complete, The Mail on Sunday has spoken to six present and former tenants of Criterion and its sister agency, Golfrate. They embody bars group Adventure Bar and pizza chain Franco Manca, run by former Pizza Express chief govt David Page. 

Both have but to agree offers with Criterion, with Page including ‘there isn’t any love lost’. By distinction, Franco Manca has reached settlement with 80 per cent of its landlords, and Five Guys has agreed hire offers with greater than 80 of its 105 UK websites. 

Criterion Capital, which owns £3.6billion of property round Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, can also be locked in an ongoing authorized battle over £3.2million of hire it claims it’s due for sports activities retailer Lillywhites, owned by retail tycoon Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group. 

Lillywhites insists it ought to obtain hire concessions for the months when the shop was closed.

A spokesman stated: ‘Frasers Group has constantly, and on quite a few events, provided to pay 50 per cent of hire for intervals wherein shops have been closed and 100 per cent of rents whereas shops have been open for commerce. We really feel this can be a greater than honest compromise and means retailers and landlords share the ache of lockdowns collectively.’ 

He added: ‘Many of our landlords are very understanding and have been working with us in these difficult instances. It is unlucky {that a} small variety of landlords comparable to Criterion refuse to even interact with us in any respect to attempt to discover an amicable resolution.’ 

Criterion Capital and Aziz didn’t reply to repeated requests for remark. 


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