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Hairdresser chain: NZ commercial landlords stingy on rent help

13 Aug 2020
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This article originally appeared on stuff business:



The largest hairdressing chain in the Southern Hemisphere has taken a swing at commercial property owners who fail to give their tenants a rent break.

As businesses in Auckland shut their doors until Friday following a community transmission case, many retailers are worrying about whether they can withstand more closures.

Just Cuts, which has 224 salons across New Zealand, Australia and the UK, closed nine of its 28 salons in New Zealand on Wednesday.

Its Australian-based chief executive, Amber Manning, said that while health and safety was key, the company remained deeply worried about the effect on small businesses.

She said it had been frustrating to find more than half its New Zealand salons had not been able to come to any kind of deal with their commercial landlords.

''It’s simply not enough given the current landscape and so we are calling on them to step up to the plate too.''

Businesses had received much more support in Australia, she said.

''We've actually be able to receive two or three months rent-free periods and also some deferrals at the end of the lease, or extensions of leases, whereas we haven't received any offers like that in New Zealand.''

Manning stopped short of saying Just Cuts could pull out of New Zealand but pointed out that it was able to operate in the UK even though there were so many cases there.

''It would continue to be a huge issue for us to operate [in New Zealand], if we didn't have assistance on the rents and social distancing and shutdowns continued.''

However, the New Zealand Council of Retail Property said commercial landlords had not received any assistance either.

Chairman Campbell Barbour said it was too soon at the moment to know how the latest restrictions would play out.

But generally commercial landlords had gone above and beyond to support businesses.

''By and large, where a landlord has assisted it's been outside the strict contractual interpretation of the relationship, which I don't think a lot of people have quite understood.

''We haven't seen fuel companies reduce the cost of their fuel or other utility companies reduce the cost of their utilities. All the business input costs have remained ever constant.''

The Government has approved a $40 million fund for dispute resolution but was unable to push through a law which would have forced landlords to give tenants a fair rent concession.

For many landlords and businesses, the council said the package had come too late, as arrangements would have already been negotiated.

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