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Valentino sues to quit Fifth Avenue lease amid pandemic losses

New York

LUXURY fashion retailer Valentino has joined a string of retailers suing their landlords to get out of pricey leases after shoppers vanished in the economic lockdown.

The US branch of Valentino SpA filed suit on Sunday in New York State Supreme Court to force 693 Fifth Owner LLC to let it out of its 15-year Manhattan lease nine years early. It cited losses due to the lockdown from the novel coronavirus outbreak. The landlord's location is listed in the suit as in care of Savitt Partners LLC.

Valentino cited "the current social and economic climate, filled with Covid-19-related restrictions, social-distancing measures, a lack of consumer confidence, and a prevailing fear of patronising, in person, 'non-essential' luxury retail boutiques."

It said the Fifth Avenue location, which has been shut down since mid-March, was "no longer workable".

Robert Cyruli, a lawyer for the landlord, declined to comment on the suit.

Valentino did not say what the rent was in the complaint.

It is not the first big name to go to court against a Manhattan landlord amid the pandemic. Victoria's Secret, owned by L Brands Inc, sued the owner of its US$938,000-a-month Herald Square location in early June, saying the city's retail industry had been "shattered" and "forever altered" since New York governor Andrew Cuomo issued a stay-home order in March that closed all but essential businesses.

Valentino has been willing to pay the Fifth Avenue rent in the past because of high foot traffic at the store's prime location, it said. Now it cannot, it said, and would be struggling long after the pandemic subsides.

New York City began the second phase of its reopening plan on Monday, allowing consumers wearing masks to shop in stores. BLOOMBERG

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