Retailers say rents will lead to closures


IRISH RETAILERS will be forced out of business unless emergency measures are introduced to alleviate the burden of upward-only rent reviews, the Grafton Street Tenants Association has warned.

John Corcoran, the boss of Irish shoe chain Korky’s, which trades on Grafton Street and in four other locations in Ireland, called on the Government to introduce measures that would grant temporary relief to tenants in upwards-only rent agreements where their rent is higher than the current market rent.

Mr Corcoran, a spokesman for the tenants association, said the ban on upwards-only rent reviews, announced last year, was welcome, but it only applied to new leases from the end of this month. This means that many retailers are locked into long-term upward-only leases.

The association is seeking the introduction of a mechanism that would allow traders to convert their upward-only leases into market rent leases.

Mr Corcoran has been a vocal critic of what he says is an intransigent attitude on the part of landlords. “We open everyday to lose €1,000 a day there,” he said of his 900sq ft Grafton Street store, where the rent quadrupled from €100,000 in 1995 to €445,000 in 2005.

“It’s just warfare, trench warfare, between landlords and tenants and it’s not doing anybody any good,” he said. Korky’s landlord, Canadian financial institution Great West Life, has refused to reduce its rent, leaving him with no option but to try to pay another tenant to take on the lease.

“We have offered a minimum of €300,000 reverse premium, but no interest whatsoever,” he said.

Earlier this week, UK Italian deli and restaurant chain Carluccio’s closed its outlet in Dawson Street in Dublin, citing unsustainably high rents. The operators said it would not reopen unless it could agree a rent reduction.