For instance, Harriet told me, the huge John Lewis store, frequently hailed as Cardiff’s saviour during the recession and permanently packed out with customers, is enjoying a 20-year rent free grace period. 20 YEARS. And what’s more, she claims, they have absolutely no commitment to stay after those two decades have lapsed. That’s a HUGE, HUGE amount of space with one of its biggest overheads eliminated – is it any wonder it can boast massive profits?
Monday afternoon: I receive an email from a representative of St David’s saying that comments in the article are inaccurate and asking me to amend the piece. Initially I worry that I’m going to face a lot of hassle, or legal action, so announce on Twitter that I’m going to take the post down. After receiving messages of support I decide to keep the post up but to include parts of the email in the post explaining the position of St David’s.
But by this point, the story had spread to The Guardian‘s local Cardiff blog:
The department store in St David’s came under fire yesterday from traders in the Victorian arcades, who felt it was unfair the chain could sit in the city for a number of years for free while local shop keepers were struggling to pay high rates against low footfalls due to chain competition and roadworks.
I receive an email from John Lewis PR telling me that the publicity that the article has generated can only be a good thing for the arcades project, and they’d love to disclose more information but due to legal binding between them and St David’s, they are unable to reveal any of the lease details. This approach I find to be much more friendly, and explanatory, and leaves me feeling satisfied that John Lewis, at least, is happy with the position in the blogpost.