An open letter to landlords – Ocean Basket Group CEO

Ever-rising fuel prices are feeding into burgeoning cost-of-living increases across the board in South Africa. Everyone is feeling the pinch as a combination of Covid-19 knock-on effects, global supply chain issues, and geopolitical fall-outs associated with the Russia/Ukraine war impact on everything. When costs go up, disposable income to spend on things like eating out at restaurants suffers. Below you’ll read a brief but impassioned open letter from Grace Harding, the Ocean Basket Group CEO. BizNews Investments Editor Victoria Ashwin recently wrote about property giant Growthpoint’s investor update – it’s not good news. She wrote that the general state of no growth in the South African economy will impact the turnovers of retailers in shopping centres. Harding’s message below overwhelmingly suggests that all should come to the table or there will be no table left. – Michael Appel

Dear asset managers and property owners,

Covid was horrible for us, for you. Now the economy is under further pressure and neither of us are on an easy street. How do we shift our relationship from you being a lord and me being a ‘servant’? 

The restaurant industry (and I am sure many other businesses who need to recover and thrive) are bruised and battered. Let’s swap the bat with a chat. Both of us hold unhelpful beliefs – you believe that we do not want to pay a fair rent, and we believe that you do not want to be our partner and understand our strife. 

Our conversations need to change. Just as you expect us to share our turnovers with you, so you can claim a percentage, we would love you to share your information with us. 

How many empty spaces in your centre (I could not find this information on the internet – anywhere), state of customer count, how many people are walking around, how many are spending? What is being bought? What are your plans to bring your properties back to life?  

On behalf of the restaurant industry of South Africa, we ask you to work with us to change the existing unhelpful narrative that brings strife to us both. No more loss of jobs is necessary.  Let’s build together – no money was lost in 2020 – it was never made. Cannot lose something if you never had it.

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