Plaza gag ploy

THE multinational owner of Plaza Arcade in Perth’s CBD has offered to compensate small businesses suffering from a construction-related trade slump, but won’t say how much unless they sign confidentiality agreements.

The traders, who revealed their frustration with Singapore-based Starhill Global and its local agents Colliers International in the Perth Voice recently (“Fair trade blocked,” Voice, August 12, 2017) say they won’t be signing up to what is effectively a gag order.

Some shops are suffering an 80 per cent cut in trade while the plaza is revamped to make way for Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo.

Perth MP John Carey met with Colliers this week to call for a fair deal for the shop owners. He described the attempt to silence them as “appalling” and backs their plan not to sign.

“It is appalling; I think it shows a complete lack of judgement by the company,” Mr Carey said. “It’s a complete lack of respect.

“They’re not big franchises, these are small, independent businesses whose families rely on this. They’re doing it tough, they’re clearly being hurt.”

He accused Starhill of being more worried about its reputation than the lives of the small business owners.

“This is a disgrace. I absolutely condemn it.”

• Keeta Dufall from Phone Mart, Perth Labor MP John Carey, Brad Kirk from Plaza Cameras and 7 Camicie’s Alessandro Prunali. Photo by Steve Grant

Business owners, Keeta Dufall’s trade has dropped so much rent relief isn’t worth it as he’s losing money just keeping his doors open. Before construction he’d do $800 trade on a Sunday; now that’s down to just $100.

“Everyone’s in agreement that it’s not a good a good thing for us,” he says of Starhill’s current offer.

The company seems reluctant to let anyone out of their leases because it’s unlikely to find a replacement with the arcade being so barren lately.

But Colliers says the renovations will deliver big benefits to the existing businesses and works were designed to create as little disruption as possible.

But the arcade is empty even during the lunch hour, and the southern access way they’ve provided is a damp, uninviting, leaky construction passage.

Mr Carey is advising all the owners to contact the Small Business Development Corporation about how to claim compensation from the landlord for lost earnings.


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