Boots in fresh court battle over rents

The high-street chemist is facing up to demands from angry landlords over unpaid rent

BOOTS has been dragged into another High Court dispute over alleged unpaid rents, this time by Royal London.

The high street chemist – owned by Walgreens Boots Alliance – is facing demands from the insurer to cough up amid growing anger from landlords, court filings show.

Boots is allegedly refusing to pay rents owed at some sites during the nationwide lockdown, despite being an essential retailer and selling goods throughout. The chain has argued that footfall collapsed significantly even though most shops were open. It said this hurt trade, while costs rose due to social distancing measures.

Bosses are apparently refusing to pay rents as they push to overhaul agreements with landlords. The firm claims its outlets should be treated similarly to those forced to shut at the height of the lockdown, many of which have refused to pay their bills.

Sales at Boots collapsed by almost a third in the three months to August as shoppers shunned cities, train stations and airports. Like-for-like retail sales plunged by 29.2pc compared with a year earlier. Overall UK sales fell 16.7pc.

The owner of Westfield in Stratford is also suing Boots over alleged unpaid rents.

Boots and Royal London declined to comment.