Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust has provided an update on its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the REIT, “as one of Canada’s largest landlords, Choice Properties understands that it has an important role to play in helping Canadians and their businesses during these unprecedented and challenging times. With many of the Trust’s tenants being negatively impacted by the pandemic, the Trust is prepared to assist qualifying small businesses and independent tenants who have requested rent relief, on a case by case basis, with a temporary rent deferral for 60 days.”
“We understand and acknowledge the extraordinary financial pressures on parts of our tenant base, especially on independent and smaller businesses, and we want to do our part to help them. Many of these small businesses are facing extraordinary drops in revenues and are rightfully focused on taking care of their families and their communities. We intend to continue working with our tenants on an individual basis to find solutions in the short term,” said Galen Weston, Chairman of Choice Properties. Mr. Weston added, “Our top priority remains ensuring the health and well-being of our employees and tenants and supporting the communities in which we and our tenants operate.”
“With a diversified base of tenants and a high proportion of necessity-based retailers, including Loblaw which accounts for approximately 55% of our annual rental revenue, Choice Properties is well-positioned to weather this market volatility. Since the beginning of 2019, we have made significant progress in strengthening our balance sheet, including refinancing our unsecured debt maturities, lowering our leverage and improving overall liquidity,” noted Rael Diamond, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Trust.
Given the uncertainty about the duration and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trust is withdrawing its 2020 Outlook that is contained in its Management’s Discussion and Analysis for the year ended December 31, 2019. The Trust intends on releasing its 2020 first quarter results on or about April 22, 2020.
Choice Properties, Canada’s preeminent diversified real estate investment trust, is the owner, manager and developer of a portfolio comprising 724 properties totaling 65.6 million square feet of gross leasable area. Choice Properties owns a portfolio comprised of retail properties predominantly leased to necessity-based tenants; industrial, office and residential assets; and offers a development pipeline. Choice Properties’ strategic alliance with its principal tenant, According to the REIT, Loblaw Companies Limited, the country’s leading retailer, is a key competitive advantage providing long-term growth opportunities.