The clash between retail and property sectors over the reform of shop rents moved closer to resolution yesterday after landlords agreed to more flexibility on payments amid difficult trading conditions.

With both the retail and property sectors under pressure to cut costs and maintain income in the economic downturn, a dispute has arisen over the historic system of quarterly payment of rents in advance.

Retailers, who complain that quarterly rents are unfair and archaic, have called for monthly rents, but property landlords have so far resisted the move, particularly for existing leases.

After a meeting yesterday between representatives of retail and property companies chaired by Sir Bryan Carsberg, the former head of the Office of Fair Trading, landlords will be asked to provide monthly terms for occupiers facing difficulties.

A number of large retailers were present, including Boots, John Lewis, Next, Signet and Travis Perkins, while some of the largest landlords in the country such as Hammerson, Land Securities and PruPIM were also at the meeting.

Financial Times