8.00am, Corinthic room: Old Tom is back from an awkward meeting with his raffish client Clive who owns three retail parks, two containing Carpetright stores.
Being Clive, the parks lie outside second-tier towns. He was constantly having to chase hot-dog sales vans from the car parks. But luck came Clive’s way in 2015. Lucky sod managed to finagle the non-food clause in the planning agreements on all three.
An M&S graces one park, a McDonald’s another, an Aldi the third. Ker-ching! Clive upgraded his Merc to a Bentley last summer. Now Carpetright threatens his lifestyle. “He’s got what Carpet-tight call ‘category C’ stores,” says Old Tom, who has done Clive’s rent reviews for years. “Stupid sod failed to consult us when the threadbare bunch came knocking for a rent reduction.”
Posh Girl looks up, alarmed. She does rent reviews on a few classier retail parks that hold Carpetrights. “He has agreed to zero – yes zero – rent, business rate payments only,” says Tom.
Posh Girl breathes a statement of the bleedin’ obvious. “We’ve got to keep this secret, or the other tenants will want parity; the value of his parks will crash and he’ll breach his banking covenants.” Old Tom grimaces. “Too late, they know. My job is to keep the real rents secret from his valuers. I said easier if you swap valuers to GBH.” Every cloud….