Retailer slams shopping centre owners over rent stance

Investment giant AMP Capital is under fire for refusing to reduce rents at its 'ghost town' shopping centres amid the coronavirus crisis.

A retailer at AMP's flagship Pacific Fair shopping centre on the Gold Coast has shared an email expressing his shock and disgust at the multi-billion dollar company.

Ben Jones, director of lolly and chocolate retailer Candy Time, said he was devastated to receive an email from AMP saying that it could not drop the rent 'at this point in time'.

 

Acknowledging 'uncertain and unprecedented times', AMP said it was prepared to work with retailers to defer rent but asked them to provide forecast cashflow for the next six months, 'detailed' profit and loss statements for the last 12 months and advice on other assistance and government stimulus payments.

 

An empty Pacific Fair shopping centre last week. Picture: Tim Marsden
An empty Pacific Fair shopping centre last week. Picture: Tim Marsden

 

Mr Jones said the response was 'devastating'.

"We are experiencing the worst crisis that Australia has faced in modern times or possibly of all time," he told AMP in an emotional email.

"It is in times like this that our country needs us to stand together and unite for the benefit of all, however what you have shown here is that you certainly stand apart.

 

 

"What small businesses like ours desperately need in this time is support and hope that there may be a way to survive all of this.

"The government is trying its best to come up with solutions to try and help Australia and Australians however AMP have clearly shown that they will not be part of the solution, but your stance will compound the already nightmarish issues that businesses are facing right now and do nothing more but add to the mental distress, despair and isolation that employers are dealing with daily as they face ruin.

 

 

"We have tried to stay open as long as possible in shopping centres that are ghost towns except for supermarkets, even at a significant financial impact to us when sales of under $100 in a day to come anywhere near close to paying staff wages let alone the stock, the insurance, the work cover and a long list of fixed expenses before we even consider rent.

"I am utterly disgusted and frankly shocked that after denying any concessions at this point in time, you ask that for even a DEFERRAL of rent that we provide a cashflow forecast FOR THE NEXT SIX MONTHS?!?!?

"I am just gobsmacked by this request when not even the RBA would be able to come up with a prediction of where we will be financially in the next few weeks let alone 6 months from now. I have, however crunched the numbers on revenue and have come up with an estimate that you can start with: $0.00."

Mr Jones said he had made the 'heartbreaking decision' to close Candy Time's doors because AMP had 'removed the hope'.

An AMP Capital spokeswoman said the company had 'reached out' to retailers and was providing a variety of support.

"We are in uncertain and unprecedented times and many businesses are facing significant challenges on many fronts," she said.

 

An empty Pacific Fair Shopping Centre at midday. A cleaner wipes down chairs, tables and railings. Photo: Tertius Pickard
An empty Pacific Fair Shopping Centre at midday. A cleaner wipes down chairs, tables and railings. Photo: Tertius Pickard

 

"We continue to support our retail partners as we navigate through this difficult time and have directly reached out to many to provide support. 

"To assist retailers, we have offered a pause on rent payments, flexibility of payment terms and trading hours and other options to provide the specific assistance that will most help in their individual situation.

"Every retailer needs different support and we are speaking with them directly to understand their particular circumstances. Like other organisations across the community, we are continuing to monitor this global issue and the specific assistance we provide may change as the situation continues to evolve."

Originally published as Retailer slams Pacific Fair owners over rent stance


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