Gwen Layden, executive director of the family-run Layden Group, has been chosen as The Irish Times Business Person of the Month for May, an award run in association with Bank of Ireland.
The Layden Group owns a large portfolio of retail investment properties, with the jewel in the crown being the George’s Street Arcade in central Dublin. When the Government introduced the first lockdown in March 2020 to counter the spread of Covid-19 here, the Layden family decided not to charge rents to arcade tenants who were forced to shut due to the Covid restrictions.
In an interview with Inside Business, a podcast from The Irish Times, Ms Layden said it would have been “immoral” to charge rent to her tenants during the lockdown.
“You can’t charge rent if they’re not making money,” she said. “It’s immoral really because they [the tenants] won’t have the money to pay you, and they’ll take it from their family savings, which isn’t fair.”
Waiving rents at the famous arcade cost her family between €400,000 and €500,000 in lost income, she added.
Like other retail outlets, the arcade was able to reopen in May after five months of lockdown restrictions, which left most of its units shuttered.
The hope now is that no more lockdowns will be required as the State emerges from the pandemic, and that the arcade’s tenants can resume business and prosper.