Coronavirus outbreak

F&B outlets still waiting for promised rental rebates

Lack of follow-through by many landlords disappointing, says restaurant association

With business affected by the coronavirus outbreak, food and beverage (F&B) outlets waiting for promised rental rebates said landlords are dragging their feet.

Apart from a few such as Changi Airport Group and National Parks Board, who have confirmed that rebates will be given, many others have not done the same, the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS) said in a statement yesterday.

F&B establishments have been hit hard by the outbreak, with many reporting slow business in the last two months. Some restaurants expect revenues to plummet by as much as 80 per cent in the next few months, RAS said.

Mr Andrew Tjioe, chief executive of TungLok Group, said: "We have reached out to various landlords and most just said they will 'wait and see'. It is very frustrating. We don't know what is taking them so long."

The well known restaurant chain has 15 brands, including Dancing Crab and TungLok Signatures. Mr Tjioe said many of the group's restaurants located in Orchard Road have reported that revenues are down by as much as half.

The Straits Times visited several restaurants across shopping malls operated by landlords such as CapitaLand, Frasers and Lendlease. Staff at these restaurants said sales have dropped by between 10 and 70 per cent.

Goro Goro Steamboat & Korean Buffet at The Centrepoint, operated by Frasers Property, said business is down by about 70 per cent.

General manager Kevin Chui said the property tax rebate that Frasers is passing on to tenants is "negligible", as are the other measures announced, such as complimentary parking for shoppers and marketing initiatives for tenants.

Frasers Property said last week that it would be passing on the 15 per cent property tax rebate announced in the Budget by the Government to all qualifying businesses.

Mr Chui said: "What we need are rental rebates - that is the only way landlords can help."

In its statement, the restaurant association said CapitaLand had promised rental rebates of up to 50 per cent for its restaurant tenants, but has so far offered those located in urban malls only a 10 to 15 per cent discount for two months.

Mr Jason Leow, CapitaLand president for Singapore and international, said rental relief will be disbursed to tenants in a targeted manner since the coronavirus outbreak has impacted different malls and trade categories in varying degrees.

CapitaLand said last week that among other measures, it would offer various forms of support, including flexible rental payments and a one-time rental rebate of up to half a month for eligible tenants.

Asked which tenants would qualify for the highest rental rebates, Mr Leow said, without giving specific details, that it will be offered to tenants who have been more affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

He said: "As an interim relief, we have granted rental rebates of 20 to 30 per cent over two months to eligible tenants in our downtown malls, which have been more affected.

"We will continue to engage our tenants closely and stand prepared to do more should the situation require."

CapitaLand aims to inform all tenants of their respective rental relief packages by the end of the month.

RAS executive director Edwin Fong said: "We are deeply disappointed in the landlords' lack of follow-through in spite of public announcements of support for the industry during this crisis."

He added: "The landlords need to fulfil their role as partners in helping the F&B industry save jobs and secure the livelihood of our employees."