21/04/2020 - 13:13

Premier Investments opts to keep stores closed

21/04/2020 - 13:13

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Premier Investments’ rent standoff with its landlords will continue at least until May 11, with the retail giant to continue not paying any rent until it can open its network of shops safely.

Premier Investments opts to keep stores closed
Premier Investments is in no rush to reopen its stores in the depressed COVID-19 retail climate.

Premier Investments’ rent standoff with its landlords will continue at least until May 11, with the retail giant to continue not paying any rent until it can open its network of shops safely.

The retail giant, whose brands include Just Jeans, Peter Alexander and Portmans, among others, closed its Australian stores on March 26.

It had originally flagged opening its store network by April 22, but said today it had no choice but to continue with the closures.

“Premier looks forward to opening our retail stores at the earliest possible time,” the company said in a statement to the ASX.

“Shopping centre landlords are responsible for creating a healthy and safe environment.

“It is incumbent on them to demonstrate and announce the actions they are taking to ensure a healthy and safe environment for our employees and customers.”

The company said around 70 per cent of its shops were in holdover or had leases expiring this year.

“These extraordinary circumstances provide Premier with maximum flexibility,” Premier said.

“Premier intends to continue to not paying any rent globally for the duration of the shutdown.”

The company's stand down of employees is affecting more than 9,000 people globally, while its decision to continue withholding rent payments is likely to increase tension between it and its landlords.

Premier Investments' decision is in contravention of the mandatory code of conduct for commercial tenancies announced earlier this month by the federal government.

Under the code, a moratorium on evictions has been put in place, with rent reductions to be commensurate with any reduction in a tenant's revenue. It does not include a moratorium on paying rent, however.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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