Mall operators urged to offer rebates to tenants

By S BIRRUNTHA / Pic By ARIF KARTONO

SHOPPING mall operators are implored to offer rental rebates to their tenants who are taking the brunt from the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO).

Malaysia Retail Chain Association VP Datuk Liew Bin said the association has been appealing to the authorities and relevant parties to provide rental rebates that could ease the burden of affected retailers.

“The first mall that has provided a 50% rental discount to its retailers is IMAGO Shopping Mall in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. They have been doing this since February.

“I think this is something that should be appreciated because most malls should have started giving rental rebates even from February itself, especially with the situation becoming worse now,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) yesterday.

Liew, who applauded Sunway Malls’ move to waive the rent for its tenants for 14 days, hoped that the rest of the mall operators would follow suit.

“We appeal to mall owners to give stimulus packages to affected retailers, especially in terms of rental, as they also need to pay salaries for their employees.

“If the government decides to extend the MCO for two more weeks, the whole retail industry will face the consequences and it is going to be very bad,” he said.

Liew added that the retail industry has been struggling, with overall sales dropping by at least between 50% and 70% since the Covid-19 outbreak.

1 Utama Shopping Centre’s (1U) management told TMR that the mall is currently monitoring the situation before deciding on a specific stimulus package for its affected retailers.

“For the time being, we are facilitating the essentials and the food and beverage segment (take-aways and deliveries) to keep everyone safe.

“In addition, we have also shortened the mall hours to ease the tenants’ operations. We are providing all aspects of support to our tenants during this period,” 1U spokesperson said yesterday.

Meanwhile, Sunway Malls has granted a RM20 million rent-free package to its non-essential trade retailers during the MCO.

Sunway Malls and Theme Park CEO HC Chan said the mall group will also undertake steps to ease credit control for retailers during this difficult period.

Chan said non-essential trade, which is mandated to cease trading during the ban, covers fashion, home furnishing, entertainment and leisure outlets.

“Sunway Malls has taken cognisance of the impact the order has for non-essential trade retailers due to the mandatory trading cessation of 14 days,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Retailers who stand to benefit from the rent-free scheme include tenants at Sunway Pyramid, Sunway Velocity, Sunway Carnival, Sunway Putra, Sunway Big Box Retail Park, Sunway Giza and Sunway Citrine, of which Sunway Pyramid, Sunway Carnival and Sunway Putra are under real estate investment trust.

Malaysia Shopping Malls Association president Tan Sri Teo Chiang Kok has also urged shopping mall members to curate appropriate and targeted action plans during the MCO period.

He said the plans include rental rebates on a case-by-case, mall-by mall bases as many critical factors are involved including location, business tolerance, owners’ directions and others.

“There are also wide differences in the rental structure for different categories of tenants and different malls, so each mall will have to derive different win-win accommodations between their respective tenants,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Teo also added that records have shown that shopping mall operators have always assisted tenants in the past during challenging times like the SARS outbreak and the 1997 financial crisis.

Last week, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced the enforcement of MCO from March 18 to March 31 to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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