Retail rout continues as Simon furloughs a third of employees

The country’s largest mall owner had workforce of around 4,500 before coronavirus hit

TRD NATIONAL /
Mar.March 31, 2020 03:00 PM
 
Simon Property Group CEO David Simon David Simon (Credit: Mireya Acierto/Getty Images, iStock)

Simon Property Group CEO David Simon (Credit: Mireya Acierto/Getty Images, iStock)

Simon Property Group, the nation’s largest mall owner, is furloughing 30 percent of its workforce, the latest in a wave of coronavirus-related layoffs and furloughs in the battered retail industry.

Among those furloughed are employees at Simon’s Indianapolis headquarters and at malls and outlet centers across the country, according to CNBC, which first reported the news.

The company, which on March 18 announced it would be temporarily closing all its mall properties, also permanently laid off an undisclosed number of employees, according to the report.

Simon Property, which is the largest retail real estate investment trust, had around 4,500 employees as of December. CEO David Simon plans to eliminate his salary until the pandemic settles, he has said, and managers will have their salaries cut up to 30 percent.

The price of Simon Property stock, like shares of most other REITs in recent weeks, has dropped significantly since Covid-19 became a real threat to the U.S. and global economy. Shares in the REIT were down around 66 percent from a high of around $150 per share.

About 50,000 retail stores have closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. About $20 billion in retail property loans is coming due on April 1, and it’s unclear how much of that debt will be paid and how that could impact both retailers and landlords.

Up until Covid-19 took hold in the U.S., Simon was in acquisition mode. In February, a judge cleared the company’s joint purchase of retailer Forever 21 with Brookfield Property Partners and Authentic Brands Group.

It was also on track to acquire mall owner Taubman Centers, which has also shuttered all of its properties. The deal was set to close later this year. [CNBC] — Dennis Lynch


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