A face-off between shopping center management and tenants of the Antares Shopping Center in Ankara is finally over as some 20 stores reopened their shutters Tuesday after they were closed in protest Monday. The mall management took a step back agreeing to the stores' offer to pay rent as a percentage of their turnover.
Meanwhile the United Brands Association or BMD which represents retailers has stepped in to mediate with other mall management to try to reach mutually beneficial compromises to ensure the tensions at Antares do not create a domino effect causing store closings at other malls.
"BMD never advocates shuttering stores in a mall. What we are doing as an association is looking at all the people we represent in all the malls where they do their business and talk to the management at those aaaaaaaas” said Burak Çelet BMD Board Member and general manager of Desa Deri a Turkish maker of leather bags and shoes.
"We offer ideas on what rent conditions should be set forth how to run a specific mall more efficiently and how mall-wide marketing campaigns can benefit everyone" Çelet added. “We will search for ways to weather the crisis and its consequences together."
The 20 or so brand-name stores had presented an offer to pay rent proportionate to the income they generate and had proposed ways to invigorate Antares. When the bargaining team did not get a positive outcome they decided to close up shop. One brand in particular took a harsh position: Lacoste decided to move out of the mall altogether.
In the aftermath of the store closings and Lacoste moving out Antares management convened an emergency meeting with the brands Monday. They reached an agreement whereby the first three months' rent will be 10 percent of turnover. After the first three months the retailers will pay a fixed rent price based on the values they paid for the previous months.
The fires at Antares have been put out but the sector is still in trouble. BMD is meeting with management at other malls.
The rental agreements were set at a different time and they were based on speculation said Çelet. "The agreed-upon rents were based on the financial situation when there was no worldwide economic crisis. Everyone was experiencing growth. But now there is a crisis and whether we want it to or not it is affecting Turaaa" he noted.
"We have to start asking ourselves 'How do we survive this?' To that end we are engaging in discussions with all mall administrators where our association has members" added Çelet.
It is a tough time for retailers but it is just as difficult for shopping centers according to Olivium Shopping Center General Manager Murat İzci. "The volume of sales has gone down for retailers no doubt about it. But we are doing everything we can to help retailers out. We are increasing our marketing efforts.
“Certain shopping centers might feel the squeeze more despite these efforts. I really believe that the way to endure these tough times is by coming together as retailers and shopping centers" he added.
Other retail associations like the Association of Registered Trademarks or TMD are learning from the events at Antares. The recent situation has been a source of distress for the sector said board President Selçuk Güzenge adding TMD would meet with other mall administrators. In fact TMD and BMD were thinking of conducting certain meetings together said Güzenge emphasizing that the plan was now on hold.
"These meetings with shopping center boards will not only encompass resolving the current stalemates but also focus on how to proceed in new shopping center developments" said Güzenge. "We need an agreement between retailers and shopping center. We need to solve the existing problems immediately since we will feel the adverse effects of the crisis even more as time goes on." "I can't remark on specifics since the agreement we reached is confidential. Needless to say we reached a consensus. We are all in the same boat so we overcame this problem in partnership" noted Antares developer and partner in Dolunay İnşaat Turan Kahraman.