Landlords have to realise “we are all in it together” and offer operators rent-free periods, Pure CEO Spencer Craig has told MCA.

Craig said the only way for most hospitality businesses to survive was to cancel rent for this quarter, with the alternative being a raft of administrations and CVAs, and the prospect of empty units and no rent at all.

The Pure founder told MCA businesses like his were part of the solution for the future, and would be needed to attract people back to office developments after a sustained period of working from home.

Craig acknowledged society could be fundamentally transformed by the outbreak, and said he was working on solutions to produce food which did not compromise the health and safety of staff and customers.

On landlords and rent, Craig told MCA: “We are all in this together, but they don’t necessarily realise that yet

“If the landlords don’t cancel the rents for this quarter, they will have massive voids, CVAs, administrations.

“The only way for most businesses to survive is a cancellation of the rent. Deferring it doesn’t work. No one is open, there’re no sales.”

He continued: “A lot of our shops are in office developments. The battle after this is, will working from home become the new norm? How do you attract people to your office developments?

“Having empty shops and no food won’t help. My business and others in hospitality are part of the solution to keep these office developments attractive.”

With commercial leases based on expected footfall, and usually including upward-only rent reviews, Craig said there was a moral argument that landlords could no longer reasonably hold tenants to the terms signed before the outbreak and containment measures.

He added that businesses had to pivot and innovate where possible to adjust to the new reality.

“There’s no point in craving the old world, and wishing it was like it was before. You have to be able to innovate.

“At the moment we don’t know what the new world will look like, other than the fact that people will be discouraged from moving around, from congregating, from coming into the office for period of time.

“Everyone will have to adapt – and that includes landlords.”