The director of a small business which used to rent from Cargiant has reported her former landlord after it unexpectedly hiked up the rent.
Eurobread UK Ltd left its home in the Triangle Estate in Harlesden after four years when Cargiant said it would be increasing rent from £17,280 to £20,964, or would use a one-month break clause to terminate the contract.
As a result, the business has relocated to Kilburn, but at a significant cost and at the expense of scrapping plans to employ more staff.
Now director Zeynep Depsen has complained to the Competition and Markets Authority.
However, Cargiant said it had done nothing wrong and that rent is in line with market rates, with properties fully let by satisfied businesses.
Ms Depsen said her firm first rented off Cargiant in 2012 at a rate of £14,000 per year. A new three-year contract at £17,000 was agreed in 2015, but the firm was told of intentions to raise rent to nearly £21,000 in May.
She said the bakery, which provides fresh bread to other small and medium enterprises (SMEs) was fortunate to find another premises, but others have had to the pay extra money.
'If they're Goliath, we're smaller than David'
“It happened quite quickly,” she told getwestlondon. “We were sent the email in May and the break notice was one month.
“Most people are scared to move out; they don’t have anywhere to go. We didn’t have any idea this was coming and a lot of businesses can’t afford the increases.
“It’s pretty much daylight robbery. I feel I had to report them to the Competition and Market authority for pretty much acting like a monopoly and not sitting down and having a conversation.
“I don’t want to report them but I feel I have to. I told them we have to look after ourselves and that’s what we’re doing.
“I feel they’re general tone was we have to do whatever they want us to do.
“The SMEs are scared to challenge them. If Cargiant is Goliath, then we’re smaller than David. It feels like it’s just greed and money to them.”
The move has hit the firm hard. It currently employs three people but had hoped to increase its workforce.
Ms Depsen said: “We were planning on getting a few apprentices and drivers to help. We were looking to employ more people which we can’t now do at the moment because we are recovering from the move.”
A spokesperson for Cargiant, which is preparing to move from its base near White City as part of the massive regeneration of the area, said: “Cargiant encourage and support small and growing businesses in west London and we lease space to many of them.
“We are an experienced and fair landlord, our properties are fully let and we increase our rents only in line with market rates.”