Westfield owner grants rent reductions to 1,624 SMEs under landlord bargaining code

Westfield shopping centre in Doncaster, Victoria. Source: AAP.

Scentre Group, the owner of Westfield shopping centres in Australia and New Zealand, says it has granted rent relief to more than 1,600 retail tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ASX-listed landlord has been negotiating with thousands of retail chains, large and small, under a code of conduct mandated by national cabinet to guide rent reductions during the pandemic.

While negotiations have broken down in spectacular fashion with several larger chains, Scentre Group chief executive Peter Allen told investors on Tuesday there have been 1,624 agreements with SMEs.

“We have agreed arrangements with 2,438 of our 3,600 retail partners, including 1,624 SME retail partners,” Allen said.

“Importantly, the structure of our leases with our retail partners has not changed and remains based on the mutual agreement to pay a fixed rent.

Scentre did not explain the exact details of its arrangements with SMEs, but under the code, landlords are required to grant rent reductions and deferrals to business owners experiencing a downturn in turnover due to the pandemic.

There’s no shining what has been an absolutely torrid six months for Westfield centres though.

Scentre booked a $3.6 billion interim loss on Tuesday, including $4.07 billion non-cash impairment on the value of its properties.

Business owners SmartCompany has spoken with have described the commercial tenancy code of conduct as a saving grace during the pandemic, but in most states, the code is set to expire at the end of September.

There are withstanding calls for the code to be extended in each state jurisdiction across the country, but so far, only Victoria has come forward with a plan to bolster its code.

NOW READ: “We’d have to shut our doors”: Rent relief was a saving grace for small business — but it’s about to expire

NOW READ: Victoria strengthens rent reductions for small businesses, extending relief by four months


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