I don’t say “I told you so” very often, but I felt the urge to do so after reading a detailed article in the West Australian newspaper. The article is titled “Small retailers feel the squeeze of big shopping centre landlords”. (Unfortunatley, the article is not available on their web site).
The article backs up what I said in my blog post (on this site) on 1st April 2009. The post was titled “Sleepless In Perth”. I quote from the article in The West Australia – Saturday 5th December 2009, Business Section:
“Most (small retailers) mortgage themselves to the hilt to meet fit-out costs that they are barley able to recoup by the time their five year leases expire.
So when the leases come up for renewal, some owners find themselves defenceless against what they view as often ruthless, complicated and unfair leasing practices of the centre operators.”
This is so true. I have appraised businesses where the owner is still carrying debt from their fit-out after five years and facing a hike in rent for a new lease and another fit-out! I am currently working with an owner of a franchise retail business in a major shopping centre. I quote from his email to me:
“Rent and Electricity currently runs at approx $8,400 per month $108,000 per annum this is what we are paying today, when the new lease rate kicks in this will jump to $10,800 per month ($129,600 pa) and then increase by CPI plus 2% per annum each year for next five years.
We have a liability to carry out a shop fit prior to end of July 2010 which we will either undertake ourselves or we would be willing to discount the business sale by $70K to cover the cost of the refit to the new owner.”
I suspect the $70,000 discount will not cover the total cost of the fit-out. The West article quotes of cases like this with even higher increases in rent and higher fit-out costs ($250,000 to $300,000) and business owners closing down, going broke or moving out as a result of the high costs and demands of the centre management. Many Perth business owners are worried about extended shopping hours coming in, as this will mean another major hike in rent to the shopping centres.
It IS possible to make a profit in shopping centres and you do get the advantage of high traffic, car parking, and security. However, if you are considering a franchise business in a shopping centre and paying these high rents as well as franchise fees – make sure you do your maths first and get good legal advice on the terms of the lease! Do your homework thoroughly before you jump in and make sure your chosen business can generate the cashflow to pay the rent and outgoings (now and with the annual increases), pay franchise fees, pay any loans, pay you a good income and still make a profit. If it doesn’t do all these things – don’t get in to it!
Feel free to contact me through the CONTACT US tab at the top of this page if you are thinking of buying a franchise and want to discuss it first. Until next time!