Retailers campaigning to change existing lease structures with landlords risk falling foul of competition laws according to the chief executive of the UK’s largest commercial property company, Land Securities.

The warning by Francis Salway, who is also president of the commercial landlords trade body the British Property Federation, comes after a group of 35 retailers including Boots, Hamleys and B&Q, led by Topshop owner Sir Philip Green, called for a meeting with a 'small representative landlord group' to discuss lease structures.

Retailers are understood to be keen to move from paying rent quarterly in advance to paying monthly to relieve pressure on cash flow.

Asked whether there could be competition issues thrown up by the retailers’ campaign, Salway said: 'Potentially yes. I am not an expert on cartel issues but there is always a risk when you come together.'

Although the Office of Fair Trading declined to comment, Salway’s stance was backed by the head of a leading property fund manager, who asked to remain anonymous. He said: 'Imagine if the boot was on the other foot and landlords got together to demand a change in terms or an increase in rents from their tenants, there would be uproar. I can’t see that this is so different.'

Sunday Telegraph