My property client with the three House of Fraser stores calls me. His voice betrays a mixture of anger and panic. “They’ve told me they want to stay but they’re not going to pay any rent, just the business rates,” he says.
“I only wished the mobile that called me on Monday morning had been fake. It was my client with the three House of Fraser stores, whose mood has spanned the full range of negative over the past few weeks. Today, it’s anger. The store’s new owner, Mike Ashley, at the weekend blamed “greedy landlords” for the closure of three (thankfully, other) HoFs. No surprise there – I had warned my client this would happen.
He didn’t thank me for it. “He comes to us and says this is the rent I’m going to pay, which is peanuts, and if you don’t like it I’m closing the store. And we’re being ‘greedy’! The only reason I gave in was because the alternative was an empty store – and probably empty for a long time.”
Unfortunately, in PR terms there’s nothing I can do. Landlords taking a hit on rents is not going to generate any sympathy.
When Mr Angry put the phone down, I returned to pitch mode; after all, September is prime pitch season. We’re putting together three decent ones. It’s the same old merry-go-round; there’s six months of proper work to do, then you hang on, having given them your best ideas and brightest people.
The good news is that provided the client likes you, you get to keep the account for a few years anyway. Until they decide that they need a new, more responsive agency. Roll on series two of Bodyguard.
Us PR ladies should have one.