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A ROW has erupted in Germany over corporate exploitation of emergency coronavirus measures after sportswear giant Adidas announced it would not pay any rent while closed.
The announcement was quickly followed by one from retail giant H&M stating that it too would withhold rent payments on high-street stores.
The steps take advantage of a temporary ban on evictions aimed at protecting private renters and echo similar decisions by firms such as Burger King in Britain.
Shoe chain Deichmann said it would suspend both rent and service charges and expected “those with political responsibility” to deliver any necessary compensation.
German politicians have rounded on Adidas, which made operating profits of €2.66 billion (£2.37bn) last year.
“It is indecent and unacceptable if financially strong firms now just stop paying their rents,” Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said.
Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said the move was “irritating,” adding: “Now is the time to work together,” while Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer said he was “disappointed” in the corporation, which was not showing the “solidarity required of every citizen.”
Socialist newspaper Junge Welt’s Jan Greve said that the “whining from Berlin” showed the futility of counting on “the good nature of capitalist corporations” and hoping that “sermons” would be enough to get big business to behave responsibly.
Greve also noted that the evictions ban would have little effect on citizens whose rent payments are not being frozen or waived. “Whether you are thrown out of your flat in spring or summer, the situation is not fundamentally different.”
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