Fri | Jun 5, 2020

Pulse waives rental temporarily for commercial clients

Published:Sunday | March 29, 2020 | 12:26 AMKarena Bennett - Business Reporter

Chairman of Pulse Investments Limited, Kingsley Cooper.
Chairman of Pulse Investments Limited, Kingsley Cooper.

Pulse Investments Limited has waived April’s rent payments for its 46 commercial tenants who are feeling the effects of the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus, COVID-19.

The waiver, in addition to the temporary closure of Pulse Rooms in New Kingston and the Peter Tosh Museum, will result in Pulse Investments losing $60 million or roughly 5 per cent of its earnings.

But that is not an immediate concern, says Executive Chairman Kingsley Cooper, who says that the rent waiver is in the “spirit of community” as Jamaica and the world battles the coronavirus.

The waiver relates to both the company’s New Kingston and Stony Hill properties. Many of the tenants it will benefit are micro, small, and medium-sized business owners of boutiques, shops, offices, restaurants, event management, and beauty salon operators.

That business grouping is at higher risk of failure from the recent measures implemented by the Government, which includes a gathering of no more than 10 individuals at a time, down from the previous 20.

Cooper now calls on less-affected landlords to offer similar concessions to tenants but at the same time, is encouraging tenants who are able to pay their rent to do so.

Aside from Pulse, other private-sector players have been doing their part by offering relief to small and medium-sized businesses, payment holidays, temporarily waived interest, and late-payment fees on loans and credit cards.

The Government itself has also announced that effective March 20, mortgagors of the National Housing Trust are to benefit from a three-month moratorium on their mortgage payments in wake of an estimated 200,000 people, particularly in the tourism sector, who could lose their jobs along with the temporary closure or reduced working hours of businesses across the island.

Pulse Investments, a modelling agency whose business has evolved to include fashion, entertainment, and hospitality, now has 14 lines from which it earns revenue, the latest being its real estate business.

Cooper told the Financial Gleaner that while the losses from the rent waiver and the temporary closures would be booked in the June quarter, a portion of that loss is expected to be offset from reduced overhead expenses.

For its second quarter ending December 2019, Pulse Investments’ core revenue amounted to $163 million, but the company posted a profit of $230 million due to gains on its investment properties.

For the comparative period in 2018, the company booked revenue of $108 million and made a profit of $102 million.

Half-year profit at $473 million more than doubled the $221 million made in the 2018 period. Revenue climbed from $237 million to $312 million.

“Before corona, our earnings were on an upward trajectory as per our quarterly results. We still anticipate improved results for year ended June 30, 2020, but probably not to the same extent previously anticipated,” Cooper said.

Aside from temporary closures, the chairman said that the business was otherwise operational, albeit at reduced hours, with assistance from staff, most of whom are working remotely.

karena.bennett@gleanerjm.com