Dixons slams rent demands

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The Independent Online
THE chief executive of Dixons, the electrical retail chain, has slammed "greedy" landlords for attempting to secure ever higher rents and service charges at a time when the retail sector is struggling against a sharp slowdown in consumer spending.

In a speech delivered to the annual conference of the British Council of Shopping Centres in Birmingham last week, John Clare accused the property sector of living in the past and failing to understand retailers' needs.

"The property world is slow, inflexible and unwilling to adapt to change," he said. "The world has moved on, but the property business still seems to be the same."

In a speech which brought only polite applause, Mr Clare called on retail landlords to be more realistic in the rents and service charges with which they attempt to burden their leaseholders. "The property market has only just recovered from the last recession, and now it looks like we are entering another one," Mr Clare said.

Mr Clare's remarks followed comments made last week by Marks & Spencer and Boots about the consumer slowdown. He said the more mature electrical products, such as televisions, video recorders and white goods, were feeling the effects of the slowdown.

However, new technology applied to products such as mobile phones, digital cameras and mini-disc players has helped these to sell well. Mr Clare said sales of personal computers had recovered, helping software sales.