ARA welcomes ACCC draft determination on collective leasing negotiation

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has welcomed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) draft determination proposing to grant authorisation to the ARA, on behalf of its members, to collective bargain and information share in relation to rent relief measures.

The ACCC has proposed to grant authorisation until 1 September 2021, subject to record keeping and reporting conditions. This draft determination follows the ACCC’s decision on 22 April 2020 to grant interim authorisation to the ARA while the ACCC considered the substantive application.

ARA CEO, Paul Zahra said this ARA led initiative is welcome news for its retail members, many of which have been severely impacted as a result of COVID-19.

“The draft determination by the ACCC, and the move towards a more formalised position, is great news for the retail community. With rent being one of the largest outgoings for retailers, this draft determination will help our members exchange information and collectively bargain with landlords to achieve more productive outcomes during this uncertain time.”

“With many of the government support measures due to expire 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. 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.”

Mr Zahra also reinforced the importance of landlords working constructively with their tenants to help the industry get back on its feet.

“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. We urge all landlords to come to the table as when retailers thrive, so does our economy.”

The application and draft determination will now be subject to public consultation, with a final determination by the ACCC to be made this September.

The full draft determination can be found here.

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