Dear Associates,

 

Earlier this week, we disclosed our first quarter earnings, for the period ending March 31, 2020. Our financial performance was strong and our results were well received by the investment community.  Furthermore, we approached the quarterly reporting and analyst call true to SmartCentres’ culture; with a strong sense of thoughtful authenticity and care for our fellow Canadians.

 

I strongly encourage you to listen to the recording of our Q1 earnings call from Wednesday evening.  The call opens with Mitch, Peter Sweeney and I sharing highlights from the quarter, along with the actions we are taking to address the current situation, while continuing to move our development initiatives forward.  The business overview is followed by an open Q&A with the analysts.  I also recommend that you read our Q1 Earnings press release and related documents.

 

Our strong first quarter performance reflects your hard work and dedication.   I want to thank the Corporate Accounting, Operations Accounting and Development Accounting teams for all the effort that went into closing the quarter, especially with the added complexity of working remotely.  I also want to thank the rest of our Associates, whose actions and accomplishments drive our results, shaping the stories that we share publicly on a quarterly basis.  It is truly a team effort.

 

CURRENT BUSINESS PRIORITIES

Given all that has transpired over the past 6 weeks, Q1 feels somewhat like a distant memory. While I am very appreciative and proud, and we should all feel a strong sense of accomplishment, what is critically important is what we are doing now, amid COVID-19:

  • We are working closely with our tenants;
  • We are preparing our centres to reopen safely;
  • We are carefully planning for our Associates’ safe return to the office;
  • We are diligently advancing our intensification program; and
  • We are proactively identifying longer-term implications and opportunities.

To borrow an expression from Winston Churchill, “never let a good crisis go to waste”.   Although it may be difficult to imagine right now, the COVID-19 crisis presents opportunities with regards to how we leverage our real estate.  While the world is still very much in the crisis-management phase, we are proactively setting ourselves up for the recovery phase and a strong growth trajectory when we come out the other side.  Tomorrow is certain to be different than yesterday, which is why we are reframing our future today.

 

CANADA CONTINUES TO REOPEN

I am encouraged by the gradual reopening of the Canadian economy.  Our provincial leaders continue to monitor COVID-19 and announce phased reopening plans for their respective jurisdictions.  Recent announcements by province include:

  • Quebec:  Non-essential retail stores with outdoor entrances opened this past Monday throughout Quebec, with the exception of the Greater Montreal Area (GMA).  The target reopening date for the GMA has been pushed out two weeks, to May 25th.   Province-wide construction reopens tomorrow.
  • Ontario:  Garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores and safety supply stores opened this weekend.  Non-essential retail stores with a street entrance can reopen tomorrow, for curbside pick-up only.  Below-grade, multi-unit residential construction projects (e.g. apartments and condos) can resume tomorrow as well.
  • British Columbia:  The target reopening date, inclusive of restaurants, cafes, retail stores, salons, daycares and more, is May 19th.

 

GIVING BACK

This week is National Nurses week in Canada, a week that carries extra significance and meaning this year, as nurses serve on the frontlines of COVID-19.    Take the time to thank and acknowledge the nurses you know.

In addition, we are working with our partner Revera, to identify ways for our Associates to give back and get involved.  Seniors’ homes have strict visitor restrictions in place to protect their residents from COVID-19, which can regrettably contribute to resident loneliness or depression, and is an increased burden on their nurses and other front-line workers.  Volunteer opportunities to help lift Revera residents’ spirits will be announced shortly.

 

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

Please continue to submit your questions, comments and suggestions via the anonymous “Ask the BCLT” survey.   We review all submissions, and where relevant, they are shared with the appropriate Homecoming/Change Agent committee for consideration as they build out their plans.  We are also considering a virtual townhall in a few weeks, at which time we hope to be in a better position to discuss our plans for a safe-return to the office.

Plus, as a reminder, please ensure your department is maintaining a central list of lessons learned and enhancement opportunities for the future (e.g. protocols to be reinforced, processes that can be streamlined, automation opportunities, etc.).  I look forward to reviewing these with each team, to align on what we can and should incorporate going forward.

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms, grandmothers, and women who support us every day.

 

Peter