John Gowing outlines strategy to ride out Covid-19
John Gowing has spoken about his company’s strategy to ride out the economic impacts of Covid-19.
Speaking from his Forster home Mr Gowing expressed cautious optimism in the face of the pandemic.
“The numbers are a lot less than I was expecting.”
Gowings Brothers owns a number of major shopping centres in the region including Coffs, Kempsey and Port Central. The company also owns Moonee Market and is behind the new Kempsey Cinema.
John is the managing director of the company and says he wasted no time when the pandemic hit our shores.
“Gowings moved very quickly to implement a one hundred per cent rental abatement for the three months of April, May and June,” Mr Gowing said.
“Tenants were eligible if their rent was paid up to date.”
In return for the rental freeze tenants were asked to commit to a lease extension of three months at the end of their current lease.
“Most of our retailers have been very happy to extend their lease and that enables us to go back to the bank and say we’ve got a longer deal going on.
“Our landlord is the Comm Bank so to some extent we’re at the mercy of the bank. We’re never at the top of the food chain.”
He says that with the rental freeze, in combination with the various subsidies and tax reductions on offer from the Federal Government, it’s not all doom and gloom for Gowings retailers.
“I think most shops will be back trading sooner rather than later and it could be a very good time to be in business.”
Gowings has had just four managing directors since its establishment in 1868 and John has been the managing director for 34 of those.
“The rental freeze has created a fair bit of goodwill among out tenants. Some people think landlords are just greedy but we’ve been in business for over 152 years and this is just what we’ve got to do to come back from this crisis.”
Currently Gowings are redeveloping the site on the corner of Harbour Dr and Hood St. Demolition is underway of the old Forestry headquarters built in the early 1940s.
The demolition was approved by Coffs Harbour City Council early last year on the proviso a heritage report and inventory be conducted.
The report outlined how valuable timber within the building could be preserved and Mr Gowing says timber will be re-used where possible in the new building (a mix of commercial and residential, with a DA yet to be submitted) or at one of their existing developments (Coffs Central for example) or those underway like the Sawtell Commons.