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Cheesecake Factory, Subway, other major retailers tell landlords they can’t pay April rent due to coronavirus

Sarah Paynter
Reporter

To slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, retailers and restaurants have shuttered their doors. 

But facing a halt in income, many major retailers say they can’t pay rent for the month of April — and they are asking their landlords for deferrals. 

Here is an up-to-date list of retailers that are asking for special accommodations on rent payments.

Cheesecake Factory

Cheesecake Factory, the California-based restaurant chain with over 200 U.S. locations, told landlords on March 18 that it would not be able to pay rent for April due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to reports.

“We have very strong, long standing relationships with our landlords. We are certain that with their partnership, we will be able to work together to weather this storm in the appropriate manner,” chief financial officer Matthew Clark told Eater.

Denver, USA - September 11, 2011: Cheesecake Factory sign on a building; a chain of restaurants specialized in cheesecakes

H&M

Swedish clothing retailer H&M is discussing rent adjustments with landlords, according to reports.

“Negotiations of rents is an ongoing part of our business, but due to the current effect on the economy, we have and will approach our landlords in the affected markets,” a spokesperson told Bloomberg.

Mattress Firm

Mattress Firm, the Houston-based mattress retailer with 2,400 stores in the U.S., cited the force majeure or “act of God” contract clause invoked for major natural disasters this week, telling landlords they would not pay rent. This comes after a letter to landlords sent last week, which offered to extend their leases in exchange for cutting rent.

“We appreciate our landlord partners, and the responses have been encouraging so far… We will continue to do everything we can to maintain business continuity and to ensure there are jobs available for our people to return to when this crisis ends,” said chief real estate officer Randy Carlin in a statement.

Subway

Subway, the Milford, Conn.-based fast food retailer with over 20,000 U.S. locations, alerted landlords last week that it might reduce or postpone rental payments. Subway will also halve royalty payments and halt advertising fees for franchisees, according to reports.

Relief from franchise conglomerates, landlords, and the Senate 

Many fast-food and retail chains own the real estate their franchisees operate from and will provide rent accommodations for franchisees. McDonalds, which is a landlord to 15% of its franchises, will consider reductions in rent and other payments. About 13,826 of which are in the U.S., according to New York real estate data company Reonomy

Wendy's restaurant in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

Wendy’s, the Ohio-based fast-food chain with 6,000 U.S.-locations (according to Reonomy), said Thursday that it would give franchisees relief, including deferral of rent, and reducing royalty and marketing fees. Dunkin’ Donuts will also ease royalty payments.

"This is an unprecedented time, and we are focused on the actions where we can make a positive difference," Wendy's CEO Todd Penegor said in a statement.

Walmart Supercenters and Sam’s Clubs locations are waiving April rent for all small businesses that leases space in their stores, including hair and nail salons, optometrists, restaurant franchises, veterinary clinics, banks and eye doctors.

Additionally, commercial evictions have been banned in locations like New York, California, Seattle and Miami. And many landlords around the country have proactively told their tenants they will be flexible, as retail stores around the globe close to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

The Senate passed a $2 trillion relief package Wednesday that provides relief to small retailers and restaurant chains, enabling them to take out loans which can be used for rent. But large chains will not be eligible for those loans.

Sarah Paynter is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @sarahapaynter

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