A Greg Harford, described as the Chief Executive of Retail NZ which is apparently a shopkeepers association, had an article published on the Stuff website. Specifically, he called for building owners to subsidise his members for their decline in sales and losses due to the lockdown.
He wrote: “The government has provided funding for arbitration, but it has been unable to enact the principle that proportionate rent relief should be applied.” So here’s some questions for Harford.
- Precisely what is the “principle” you refer to? The fact is no such principle exists and you simply made it up.
- Retailers cover a wide range of activities. However, as a general proposition, most have numerous supplies for their activities. Plus they have wages, electricity, and a range of other costs. So does this mythical subsidy “principle” extend to those suppliers and if not, why not? Finally, why do you single out building owners?
I shall look forward to an explanation, albeit I know the answer.
That is, if he tried this “principle” fiction on the electricity supplier or say clothing manufacturers providing dress-shops with stock, they’d tell him where to go.
Building owners did not cause the lockdown. Their relationship with shopkeepers is a contractual matter in the form of a lease.
I can imagine Harford’s reaction if, as happens, say building insurances are dramatically increased and the shopkeepers were asked to increase their rent. Quite rightly, they’d refer to the lease and tell the building owners where to go.
My company owns the most Wellington prime CBD retail premises. You will not find any of our lessees critical of us, indeed very much to the contrary as they sing our praises.
We did not wait to be asked but realising their difficulties, provided assistance.
When I grilled Justice Minister Andrew Little, (who I’ve known for many years) about this intervention he replied, “Everyone knows about RJH’s reputation.” The inuendo was I am naïve about other building owners who take a hard contractual line.
I’m not naïve; it’s a contractual matter and they’re as entitled as any supplier to demand it be adhered to and not have one party solve their problems by the simple remedy of giving them to someone else.
RJH is a substantial office building owning company and our buildings’ retail component’s main function is decorative rather than financial. But most of the 250,000 building owners across New Zealand are not in our position. Nevertheless, they will deal with the issue sensibly as they see fit, without illogical government intervention, let alone bogus “principle” assertions.