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ACCC approves ARA amendments to pop-up code

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THE Australian Retailers Association (ARA) welcomes the announcement from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to re-authorise an amended Casual Mall Licensing Code of Practice (Code) today. The Code in its current form has led to a number of issues for retailers and the unfair introduction of external competitors to shopping centres across the country.

The ARA’s long running campaign to change the Code has resulted in a victory for retailers battling against unscrupulous landlords. The ARA sought to make changes to the Code’s dispute resolution process, as well as the Code Administration Committee, which has been ineffective at administering and maintaining the Code over the last five years.

The ongoing issues with the Code have led to the unreasonable introduction of external competitors to shopping centres, especially at peak periods, which is hurting retailers and disrupting their businesses.

Russell Zimmerman, ARA Executive Director, said the ACCC had delivered a win for retailers just before Christmas, the busiest time of the year for the industry.

“The news couldn’t come soon enough for retailers, who have endured skyrocketing rents and a barrage of pop-up shops right outside their stores at some of the busiest times of the year,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“We now have a mandate from the ACCC to push ahead with making the necessary changes to the Code to ensure it is fair for everyone concerned.”

The ARA would like to thank the Australian Sporting Goods Association (ASGA), Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) and Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA) for their ongoing support in amending the current Code.

Mr Zimmerman said he was quite stunned to see the National Retailers Association (NRA) abandon retailers in favour of their landlord friends at the Shopping Centre Council of Australia (SCCA).

“It was astounding to see the NRA standing on the side of unfair competition and supporting the standover tactics of landlords when it comes to pop-up shops,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“The ACCC have had to drag landlord advocates like the NRA to the adult’s table this Christmas. However, these efforts have not gone unnoticed as shopping centres will no longer be able to introduce unfair competition, or bully their tenants into submission when they make a reasonable request.”

The FCA and PGA will now join the ARA on the CAC, ensuring a fair and balanced approach to casual mall leasing.

“The ARA will continue to seek fairness across the tenancy space for retailers and will ask the ACCC for regulatory intervention if the current issues are not addressed,” Mr Zimmerman said

“The proof of the pudding will be in the eating. All parties to the Code need to work together to address its issues, and ensure it operates in the interests of fairness for retailers across the board.”

To view the ARA’s submission to the ACCC, please click here.

About the Australian Retailers Association:

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is the retail industry’s peak representative body representing Australia’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. The ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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