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Stop of rents due to corona virus: How Deichmann, Adidas and H&M defend themselves


The fact that large fashion manufacturers and retail chains such as H&M, Adidas and Deichmann temporarily suspend their rental payments for shops in city centers in the corona crisis has caused outrage to the highest circles of politics. Federal Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said: "If financially strong companies simply no longer pay their rents, this is indecent and unacceptable." Courts, according to the SPD politician, could possibly legally review the announced rent freeze by H&M, Deichmann and Adidas. Boycott calls were also circulating on the Internet. Now the companies are appeasing.

Germany's largest shoe dealer Deichmann basically adheres to his decision, but restricts it: "We never said that we no longer pay rents. We asked our landlords to defer our rents," said CEO and owner Heinrich Deichmann of the news agency dpa . "The fact that we are now assuming that we would like to enrich ourselves in the crisis hits me very hard. That is not the case at all." The 57-year-old added: "If a landlord is unable to defer a payment economically cope, we will help him and then we will also pay the rent. " At the same time, the entrepreneur left no doubt that he expected concessions from the landlords in view of the state-ordered closings. "We will ask the landlords to cover part of the rent damage," he said. There are 1,500 branches in Germany alone.

Adidas: Landlords are often insurance funds, although the shoe retailer is fundamentally solid, Deichmann said. But the coronavirus crisis is also a challenge for him. "We operate in 30 countries. Our stores are closed in 28 countries and we cannot predict when these closings will end, so we have to try to protect our employees and their jobs." Whether Deichmann has to apply for state aid depends on how long the crisis lasts. "If we can reopen our stores on April 20, it won't be necessary. But if the stores were to remain closed for three months, we should also think about it."

The entrepreneur fears that even after the stores reopen, the business will start rather slowly. "We saw that in China, and it took a while there before sales returned to pre-crisis levels." He also expects a discount battle. "The longer the closure takes, the less the goods fit the season. In addition, unsold goods are piled up in the warehouses. Then you will surely see that a lot is reduced."

Adidas boss Kasper Rorsted had already tried to limit the damage in an interview with the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" at the weekend. The company was not interested in not paying the rent for April, but only in deferral, he said. At the same time, the manager emphasized that the landlords were almost exclusively large real estate marketers and insurance funds, who had shown a majority of understanding for the measure. Only four of the landlords are private individuals. Rorsted said: "You will receive your April rental as usual. We are well aware of our responsibilities."

H&M: Finding individual solutions H&M also said that the first step was only to suspend payments, not to pay no rent. The managing director of H&M Germany, Thorsten Mindermann, said: "Our primary goal is to quickly find individual solutions for rents with all our partners, both private and institutional landlords." Justice Minister Lambrecht previously said cautionary words to the companies directed: "Of course, tenants have to pay their rent. If they actually experience serious payment difficulties as a result of the crisis, they can only be terminated for a limited period." Tenants are well advised to look for a friendly solution with their landlords if they are actually in payment difficulties. The perfumery group Douglas also wants its real estate partners to take rents in the current crisis. But one thing is "very clear", said Douglas boss Tina Müller to the "Handelsblatt": "We will not put off a delay like this on the backs of the small private landlords. In our case we are talking about a number of institutional providers. We are alone in round Represented 200 shopping centers. Now solidarity is required. " Müller had to close almost all 2400 branches two weeks ago due to the corona pandemic. Douglas: Management's waiver of wages Many Douglas partners were "already ready to defer payments". It is now about "willingness to cooperate. After all, we are currently making zero sales in the branches, while the costs continue. We can only manage this together" – with employees, management, landlords and suppliers, with whom she is also in discussion. She and her top management would also make a contribution: "They had agreed to a partial waiver of wages, in the clearly double-digit percentage range that around two dozen top executives make," said Müller.
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