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Forced to shut up shop and leave

Posted On Monday, 07 October 2002 02:00 Published by
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Up-market shopping malls landlord refuses to renew leases despite tenants years of loyalty and contribution to centre.
By Michael Pinyana

Up-market shopping malls landlord refuses to renew leases despite tenants years of loyalty and contribution to centre

Two of the oldest businesses in Cavendish Square have been forced to close after investment group Old Mutual refused to renew their leases in the up-market shopping centre.

Landlord Old Mutual and tenants Maguire Fine Jewellery and Fanfreluche boutique have been at loggerheads for the past year, but the owners of the two businesses have now lost the battle.

Both will leave at the end of the month after Old Mutual refused to renew their leases, citing their under performance in the centre where they have traded for almost 30 years.

Jeweller Terence Maguire said: I put my life investments in here. Everything I have is in my business here, and this is the return.

Maguire this week put up posters in his shop window slamming the Gentle Giant that forced him to close his business.

Fanfreluches owner, Yvette Simon, said: Its not fair because I have been here for 29 years. Fanfreluche is an exclusive boutique which has been doing very well for Cavendish Square. But theyre the big guys; what can we do?

Despite Old Mutuals claim of under-performance, both companies say they have been performing as well as ever. Maguire even has three certificates of merit from Old Mutual for outstanding performance. The latest one is dated last year.

Old Mutuals general manager for the centre, Roy Lighton, said the site was a part of a performance-driven retail property portfolio. He said the leases would not be renewed owing to the tenants failure to produce satisfactory returns for tenants and investors alike.

Maguire paid rent of R19500 a month, while Simon paid R11500. Neither is in arrears, but Lighton refused to say in what area they had under-performed.

The owners were also forced to turn down offers from outside investors to take over their businesses. Maguire said he had three fantastic offers, which would have benefited both the centre and himself, but because his lease was not renewed, this was not possible.

I would have been out by the beginning of May and they would have had blue-chip tenants, he said.

Lighton said Old Mutual reserved the right to enter into negotiations with prospective tenants of its choice, whom we believe are appropriate for the centre and not necessarily those proposed by a tenant.

Both owners were offered alternative venues in the centre, but Maguire and Simon said they could not afford to move as it would cost about R150000 to start over.

Albin Wagner, Simons attorney, said she did not have the will or finances to take the matter further, while David Owen, Maguires attorney, said there was nothing that could be done legally.

Financially, I am in trouble, Maguire said. I dont know how were going to make ends meet in the next few months. Well see what avenues are available for a 57-year-old. Legally, they are correct; morally ... I dont know.

Owen said it was a human rights issue for the Constitutional Court and added that Maguire could not afford to take up the matter so had no option but to leave.

Sunday Times

Publisher: Sunday Times
Source: Sunday Times
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