ACCC rules retailers can collectively bargain for rent relief

Internal Queen Victoria Building

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has given grant authorisation to retail members of both the National Retail Association and Australian Retailers’ Association to allow collective bargaining for rent relief from landlords.

The two separate authorisations will be active until September 2021, unless revoked sooner, and allow association members to share information in order to better survive the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Retailers have been rocked by the devastating impact of Covid-19,” NRA chief executive Dominique Lamb said.

“Even with restrictions beginning to be eased across most states, many businesses are still struggling to keep afloat. ”

Both Lamb and ARA chief executive Paul Zahra believe the allowances will help the retail industry stay afloat should the Government’s JobKeeper payments run out in September.

“There is genuine concern among the retail community, particularly small businesses, of the financial ‘cliff’ and what that will mean for their operations and staff,” Zahra said.

“This draft determination has those small businesses front of mind and correctly recognises that they can be at a disadvantage when negotiating with large landlords.”

Zahra and Lamb also stressed the importance for these large landlords to work constructively with retailers in this period, as each voluntary administration runs the risk of tenants permanently shuttering their stores.

“This pandemic has shone a light on how important it is for landlords and their retail tenants to work together to ensure the industry can bounce back following these months of restricted trading,” Zahra said.

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