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Leah Farrell

Vast majority of Irish retailers struggling with rent arrears, according to new survey

In 20% of cases, retailers said they had no engagement from their landlord on the issue of arrears.

AN OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of retailers in Ireland say they are struggling with rent arrears, according to a survey of the sector by Retail Excellence Ireland.

Some 80% of the 145 retailers — representing 1,650 outlets across Ireland — polled by the representative group said they owed rent to at least one landlord.

Roughly 20% of respondents said they had no engagement at all from their landlord on rent issues, according to the survey.

Of the cases “without an appropriate resolution”, two-thirds related to problems with big, institutional landlords and shopping centres.

In a statement, Retail Excellence managing director Duncan Graham said, “This survey provides a useful indication of what is happening in the market at present, as retailers struggle to get back on their feet after the body-blow of enforced closures due to the pandemic.

“We welcome any engagement from landlords on rent arrears, and as such, it is concerning to see one in five respondents say landlords are not engaging with them on rent due and are demanding full payment despite the fact that stores were shut for nine months.”

It’s ironic, Graham said, that institutional landlords and shopping centres represented the majority of cases where resolutions could not be found.

“Deals are being done across the board but in general, it seems it is the smaller, local landlords that are being reasonable and willing to compromise. Whereas in comparison, the majority of problem cases from this survey refer to bigger landlords.”

The survey was carried out following an appearance by a delegation from Retail Excellence at the Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment last month.

In a submission to the Committee, the lobby group warned that the industry is facing a number of challenges, “chief among them”, the issue of rent.

“We believe that all landlords should, at the very least, be offering a two-month rent amnesty to commercial tenants, which would represent half of the time retailers were shut during the third Covid lockdown from January to May of this year,” the group said at the time.

“Were all landlords to demand overdue rent payments in full from their tenants, it is obvious that we would be facing the collapse of the retail industry in Ireland and a resulting economic catastrophe.”

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