Retailers in Germany seek to re-open, as rules shift again

Retail landlords in Germany are re-opening parts of their portfolio this week, after the national government greenlit the resumption of trade for smaller stores, alongside car dealerships, bike and bookshops.

'The relaxing of these restrictions means that tenants responsible for 92% of Greenman Open’s rent are entitled to be open,' Johnnie Wilkinson, CEO of Greenman, told PropertyEU.

However, the CEO of Greenman, the Dublin-based investor in German food-anchored retail parks and retail warehouses, warned that the situation differed markedly between the regions.

'Whilst the German government has announced a relaxation of the lockdown, it is up to each state to interpret the measures,' Wilkinson noted. 'As a result some states are allowing some large scale retailers stores with a sales area of more than 800 m2 to open a portion of their stores up to 800 m2 of sales area. Some states, Berlin included, have yet to announce how they intend to implement the measures in detail.'

Different rules
Leading German retail landlord ECE said it had studied the different rules across the country and believed that some of its smaller stores could now re-open in twelve German states. The first relaunches were scheduled from Monday. Small variations still apply, such as the requirement for shops in Saxony malls to have external doors if they wish to re-open.

Shops in the state of Brandenburg get the green light as of Wednesday 22 April, with the situation in Bavaria and Thuringia likely to evolve after 27 April. However, smaller stores in shopping centres in Berlin and Saarland remain shuttered.

Meanwhile, Hamburg-based retail property specialist Redos said it had also been examining the possibilites offered by the new regulations together with retailers, shop owners and the centre management teams of its shopping centres.

At Rhein-Ruhr Zentrum for example, Redos' largest asset located in the densely populated Rhine-Ruhr area, which is managed by ECE, shops from different sectors such as clothing, leather goods and perfumery were able to re-open on Monday following 'intensive preparations to meet hygiene requirements and to ensure the necessary safety and cleanliness', according to the firm.

Redos said it welcomed the opportunity to return 'diverse shopping' to its mall, beyond the range of offers to cover daily needs.

Comprehensive range
Christine Hager, managing director and head of shopping centre asset management at Redos, told PropertyEU: 'We are happy that we are able to offer our customers a more comprehensive range of products in our centres again. At the same time we are aware that we are still far away from the previous normality. In all further measures we take, the safety of our customers and the employees in the centres is our and the retailers' top priority.'

However, many retailers appeared to still be in the 'wait and see' phase.

Wilkinson added: 'It’s too early to say if retailers will make use of these rights. One can see a situation where continued low frequency of footfall might deter tenants from opening some or all of their stores.

'However, the relaxation of the shutdown will give landlords a very strong position in rent payment discussions with those tenants who 'can pay rent but won’t pay'. These tenants may be receiving government support (in one or more forms) and if they allowed to open for business their argument for the non-payment/deferral of rent payments is substantially weakened.'


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