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A view along Portobello Road on Satruday, June 13. Image credit: Nicholas Kasic, markets manager at Kensington & Chelsea council.

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Portobello Group is offering 100% rent relief for traders during the closed period if they agree to sign up for another six months post-opening or 50% relief if they decide to leave, unless they are in receipt of a government grant.

Closed since late March, many of the dealers are due to reopen from June 20. Last week the government confirmed that shops and indoor markets can reopen to the public from June 15 as long as they complete a risk assessment that premises are ‘Covid-secure’. This includes cleaning requirements and space for social distancing.

Portobello Group, which owns seven arcades on the street, will mark aisles with 2m lines, provide sanitiser stations, cleaning post- and pre-opening and offer visors or masks and gloves for traders who do not have their own.

Grants to pay for rent

The landlord is assisting traders with the application of government grants (roughly around £10,000) which it says reflects an average of two years’ rent for a stall in one of its arcades. Recipients of the grant who use it to pay for six months’ rent will be offered a 20% discount. Those receiving the grant who do not commit to six months will be asked to pay their due rent in full.

Some dealers who ATG has spoken to have decided not to return, however, as they are concerned they will not be able to afford the rent, even with discounts and grants.

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Portobello Road on Satruday, June 13. Image credit: Nicholas Kasic, markets manager at Kensington & Chelsea council.

Around 500 dealers were trading across Portobello Group’s arcades prior to the pandemic. Ryan Todd, of the Portobello Group, said: “Many of our dealers have been with us for quite some time. Portobello becomes a way of life and a decision to leave, particularly in receipt of the grant support, is a decision which goes against both the spirit in which those grants were offered and the spirit of solidarity which is so sorely needed in these times.

“The lockdown is over, our doors will soon be open and we implore all stakeholders to rally together to put this moment behind us.”

Todd added: “This is a crisis but we are remaining positive and hope we can draw new talent to the street. It is evident in the relief we have offered and the discussions we are having with traders that we want traders to stay with us. Any street with a strong identity like this needs to retain as many strong traders as possible.”

Kensington & Chelsea council, which is landlord of markets in Portobello and Golborne Road, has around 50 tenants who are antiques and vintage traders. The council is offering a rent-free period for council traders at its market until the end of June. For those self-isolating, shielding or still not ready to work the rent-free period will extend until September and “individual situations will be reviewed”.