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Premier Investments to open stores, repay rent
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Peter Alexander stores across the country have been closed since late March. Photo: Shutterstock

Premier Investments to open stores, repay rent

Premier Investments says it will pay rent in arrears for its global store network at a gross percentage of sales, as it prepares to re-open Australian shops shut due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Premier Investments says it will pay rent in arrears for its global store network at a gross percentage of sales, as it prepares to re-open Australian shops shut due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The ASX-listed retail operator, which owns the Just Group of brands including Smiggle, Peter Alexander, Just Jeans and Portmans, among others, announced today that its Australian shops will reopen on May 15.

Premier had ceased paying rent to its landlords when it shut its store network, creating a standoff between it and some of Australia's biggest shopping centre owners, including listed players such as Scentre Group and Stockland.

However, while it announced its stores would reopen and rent would be paid once again, albeit as a percentage of sales, the group warned that inventory levels and product ranges would be imbalanced until December, with uncertainty remaining over customer responses and trading activity.

“Premier looks forward to working with shopping centre landlords to help bring the economy back to life,” the company said in a statement to the ASX.

“As part of this critical process, it is incumbent on those landlords to demonstrate and announce the actions they are taking to ensure a healthy and safe environment for our employees and customers to confidently return to shops.”

Premier Investments’ global network had been shut since March 26, in an effort to assist federal and state government initiatives to stop the spread in COVID-19.

Total sales dipped 74 per cent for the six weeks to May 6, while the company’s online sales surged by 99 per cent over the same period.

A wide range of safety measures will be in place for the store reopenings, including 1.5 metres social distancing, frequent cleaning and good hygiene.

Stores in New Zealand will open from May 14, while Smiggle shops in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland will remain closed until at least June 1.

Smiggle stores in Singapore will also be closed until June 1, while 16 Smiggle shops in Malaysia re-opened on May 4.

All of Premier Investments’ Smiggle outlets in Hong Kong are operating.

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