Following the National Cabinet meeting on 3 April 2020, Scentre Group CEO Peter Allen said:
“It is important we help small and medium sized retailers to get to the other side. It is why we’ve been actively working with industry bodies and governments to develop a SME Retail Leasing Code of Conduct to apply during the COVID-19 period. We will continue this work following the feedback from National Cabinet today.
“Our aim is, in a proportionate and measured way, to share the financial risk and cashflow impact during the COVID-19 period with the interests of all our stakeholders which include SME and mum and dad retailers right through to mum and dad investors.
“There is no one-size fits all approach to this situation. It’s going to take a lot of time to work through arrangements with our 2,600 SME retailers and their banks to get them to the other side.
“We all accept that retail leases are legal obligations and enshrined in the laws of the states and territories, yet we are also commercial people and we understand there needs to be many factors taken into consideration as we come to an agreement on temporary arrangements and work our way through these extremely difficult times. We are committed to working with our SME retailers and their banks so they have the capacity to re-open, re-employ their staff and scale up as quickly as they can when normal trading patterns resume.
“I want to thank my leasing team and their support team who continue to have very difficult and understandably emotional conversations with our retailers at this time, especially our small to medium sized retailers. It is a situation none of us expected to find ourselves in and some retailers are much more vulnerable than others through no fault of their own.
“We will continue to do the right thing and have one-on-one conversations with all our retailers on what is best suited to each of their businesses.
“Our message to SME retailers is to please keep talking to us and your bank and we will find a solution that is specific to your business.”