The retail industry’s response to COVID-19

Grosvenor, LaSalle, New River and more issue statements on crisis

In the last week, landlords and retail investment groups have issued statements in regards to the ongoing covid-19 crisis. Below is an excerpt of each company’s statement with a link to the statement in full.

Capital & Regional: “During this difficult time we are placing the utmost importance on the health and safety of our guests, customers, and employees and have implemented a number of preventative measures throughout our centres since the outbreak of COVID-19. These include escalating the intensity and frequency of our cleaning procedures, providing instructional signage, deploying additional hand sanitisers and encouraging all our visitors and staff to practice good hygiene with regular hand washing. We remain diligent in our approach to the virus and are maintaining an ongoing dialogue with the local health authorities as the situation evolves, while adhering to the latest official advice being provided. [17 March 2020]

The Crown Estate: “We will be working closely with our customers onsite and our supply chain to ensure that we take appropriate steps to help safeguard the health and wellbeing of all those who visit our places. This has included providing additional hygiene measures for visitors, customers and staff. We have also postponed scheduled events for the foreseeable future across our portfolio, and have taken the decision to close both the Savill Building in Windsor Great Park, and our flexible office space, One Heddon Street, in Central London.  We will continue to monitor the situation, and respond flexibly, as the circumstances evolve, where the Government’s guidance changes or, where we feel there is a risk to the health of our customers and visitors.” [18 March 2020]

Grosvenor Group’s chief executive Mark Preston: “We are actively managing our response to COVID-19 in line with local government advice in each of the countries in which we operate. Our collective objective is to help reduce the rate at which the virus spreads and protect those at risk. We are doing this by: Supporting our employees, tenants, partners and the communities we are part of; Looking to make immediate cash contributions to charities and community foundations to help tackle the crisis; Avoiding all non-essential travel; Enabling flexible and remote working across the business; Actively exploring how we can make a real difference within each of our communities and what we can do for others.” [20th March 2020]

LaSalle Investment Managment’s CEO Jeff Jacobson: “Our immediate priority is to support the health and well-being of our employees and their families, clients, business partners and the communities where we operate. We are keenly focused on managing our business responsibly around the world and are guided by the latest information available from leading health authorities.” [16 March 2020]

NewRiver Reit: “It is too early to quantify the impact of COVID-19 on the Company’s operations. A significant part of the Board’s financial focus for the foreseeable future must therefore be on liquidity and trading through to more normalised conditions. To that end, the Board has decided not to pay the fourth quarter dividend for the financial year ending 31 March 2020. The total dividend paid for the year ending 31 March 2020 will therefore be 16.2 pence per share. The impact of this decision is to preserve an additional £17 million of cash. The Company will update shareholders on dividends at the time of the announcement of the Full Year Results. The Board wishes to return to a consistent programme of dividend payments as quickly as possible, but this can only be done on the return to normalised trading conditions. The Board considers this to be the most prudent course of action until the impact of COVID-19 becomes clearer.” [19 March 2020]

Savills Ireland: “Coronavirus has created social and economic turmoil. As of today the human, economic and real estate impacts of this are unclear. However, Savills has a large and well-established presence in Asia. One third of group revenues derive from Asia-Pacific, and we employ 30,000 persons across 58 offices in the region, including in Wuhan. Our Asian teams’ extensive first-hand experience of SARS in 2003, and of its close cousin Covid-19 – before the virus hit Europe – mean that they have important information to share with us. The Irish management team is in close and continuing contact with its counterparts in China to leverage these learnings. We are also closely monitoring local developments in Ireland.” [23 March 2020]


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