Dec 6, 2020

Queen’s coffers hit by high street turmoil

The Queen's purse has been hit by a string of company collapses including PizzaExpress and New Look, showing that even royal finances are not immune from the turmoil on the UK's high streets. The Crown Estate, which manages the monarchy's £13.4bn commercial property portfolio in the public interest, has suffered as retailers and casual dining chains restructure after pandemic lockdowns and restrictions crushed earnings, plunging many companies into administration. The group was a creditor to high street chains Pizza Hut, PizzaExpress, Casual Dining Group and New Look, according to documents filed at Companies House, all businesses that have sought company voluntary arrangements this year. The group owns large chunks of shopping districts including Regent Street in London and regional retail parks in Oxford and Northamptonshire, and joins other commercial landlords in seeing sharp drops in income as footfall has tumbled and tenants' earnings have dried up. Lingerie chain Ann Summers on Friday became the latest retailer to announce plans for a CVA. The Crown Estate returns its profits to the Treasury, which then allocates a portion of profits as "Sovereign grant" to the Queen to cover the maintenance of a number of palaces.

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