UK’s Next says landlords must be pragmatic to keep shops open

LONDON, April 1 (Reuters) – British fashion retailer Next said it will retain stores as long as landlords continue to be pragmatic on the rents they charge.

“As they have been so far, if landlords continue to be as pragmatic in determining rents going forward then that will allow shops to stay open,” CEO Simon Wolfson told reporters on Thursday after Next reported annual results.

In Next’s 2020-21 year 80 of its store leases expired, it closed 18 branches and renegotiated rents in 62 stores, achieving an average reduction in rent of 58%.

Wolfson said Britain also needed a new settlement on business rates that brings them down to a level commensurate with the value of shops today.

“At the end of the day if consumers don’t want to shop in shops they won’t continue to,” he added.

Reporting by James Davey. Editing by Andrew MacAskill