Burger King will shut down its store on Cornmarket Street, the Oxford Mail reported on Wednesday. A property agent for the fast food chain said Jesus College, the landlord, had refused to extend the short lease on the building.
AG&G Director Richard Negus said the property surveyors had “tried to negotiate” with Jesus, but that the college would not compromise on the rent charged. The company “wanted to reach an agreement to secure the lease and make provision to keep it open as and when coronavirus finished, but couldn’t get an agreement… so it has been put on the market.”
The failed rent negotiations have prompted criticism from trade and business associations. Graham Jones, a spokesperson for the trade association OX said that Jesus College “looks like it’s trying to kill the business and has other uses lined up”.
Jones added that if landowners want business in Oxford to flourish, they would have to accept lower rent income based on lower rent income for a while.
The Oxford Mail has published an editorial comment, arguing that “the college, as a charitable institution, is duty bound to maximise its revenues. That however, can not come at the cost of the city’s vitality.” Colleges and churches “may appear quaint and old fashioned, but beyond their ivy-clad quads and calm cloisters, they are hugely wealthy landowners and, in some cases, ruthless landlords.”
Burger King’s Cornmarket Street branch is not the first business in Oxford’s restaurant industry to remain closed after being forced to shut following the lockdown in March. Earlier this month, the Bicycle Shed Pub in Summertown announced it would remain closed due to being unable to sustain business in the current climate.
Jesus College has been contacted for comment.
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