Strong arm tactics enrage UK’s largest family-owned high street toy retailer on first day of second lockdown

Trading had barely resumed in The Entertainer’s Westfield stores as the business closed its doors for walk-in customers as part of the second national lockdown, when The Entertainer’s founder and executive chairman, Gary Grant, received a final demand from Westfield’s Lawyer before court proceedings for unpaid rent.

It comes as The Entertainer heads into its busy Christmas trading period with November usually accountable for 15% of the businesses’ annual turnover, following a tough summer due to the initial national lockdown.    

Grant said: “Having had a long term business relationship with Westfield, I was shocked and disappointed with the untimely and aggressive approach. When we forwarded Westfield’s Lawyers’ letter to our MP, we were then advised immediately by their Lawyer that the letter had been withdrawn. Clearly the letter was not a mistake, so it showed Westfield’s intensions.

“Retailers had seen these heavy-handed tactics earlier in the year and I’d hoped that as we enter the second phase of a national lockdown we would be met with more understanding. As you can imagine, with Christmas just seven weeks away and November is our second busiest trading month, the lockdown is unwelcome. Combine that with the operational challenges of having to close over 170 stores in just three days, we expected landlords to be more sympathetic and collaborate with us, not just send threatening letters.  

“If landlords continue to strong-arm retailers in this way I’m afraid we won’t have a high street to rush back to on December 3 as many retailers simply won’t survive.”