CMT to give more rental relief to SME tenants

CapitaLand Mall Trust (CMT) expects to provide additional relief of up to one month of rental or other forms of assistance this month to small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) tenants that do not qualify for help under an assistance law.

This is on top of rental waivers or deferrals it is giving qualifying SME tenants for June after amendments to the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act were passed last Friday.

This will see landlords waive up to two months of base rent for eligible tenants that have suffered significant losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The real estate investment trust's (Reit) manager said yesterday that it expects to provide the extra relief to non-qualifying tenants "in view of the phased approach towards safe reopening of businesses". These tenants have businesses that are either restricted from operating or materially affected by Covid-19, it added. It also said it was unable to ascertain the impact of the pandemic and the resulting regulatory measures on its financial performance and operations for the year.

Separately, developer CapitaLand said yesterday that it will boost its recovery in China with a digitalisation strategy to cope with the "new normal" post-pandemic. It is accelerating the move by tenants in its malls, offices, business parks and industrial properties onto the e-commerce platform of its lifestyle and loyalty app CapitaStar.

CapitaStar has more than 10 million members in China and over a million in Singapore.

CapitaLand cut CapitaStar's platform fees and simplified the transition process in February. About 1,100 Chinese retailers have since joined, with 3,000 more in the pipeline.

CapitaStar's online retail sales last month were 6.5 times higher than in March, the firm noted.

The CapitaStar platform lists more than 60,000 items, some of which can be picked up at physical stores in addition to home delivery - which can drive footfall to CapitaLand malls.

The group has ramped up shopping experiences on CapitaStar, such as live-stream sales. A May 22 live-stream event held by 10 CapitaLand malls in eastern China generated over one million yuan (S$196,800) in tenant sales in eight hours.

In March, CapitaLand launched a "Homes" feature on CapitaStar catering to house hunters in China. Over 2,700 viewing appointments were booked through the feature by the end of last month, it said. From January to May, the developer sold over 1,400 homes worth about four billion yuan. About half of these sales were achieved in May.

CapitaLand has also rolled out its "Next-Ten" retail concept stores across eight China malls.

The stores use data insights and social media marketing to support participating retailers in making sales 24/7 online and offline without space constraints. They have helped retailers achieve an 11 per cent increase in sales on average in the past year.

CapitaLand group chief executive Lee Chee Koon said the pandemic's disruption to supply chains presented "a unique opportunity... to create new business models".


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2020, with the headline CMT to give more rental relief to SME tenants. Subscribe