Alliance Boots health and beauty chief executive Alex Gourlay has thrown his weight behind a blueprint to breathe new life into town centres.

Gourlay, who is responsible for 2,500 stores in the UK and a consistent champion of the high street, was speaking in Maidstone on Wednesday at a Business in the Community (BITC) event focused on reviving embattled high streets attended by consumer minister Ed Davey and representatives of retailers including Asda, John Lewis and M&S.

The Boots boss lent his support to a BITC report, ‘Future high streets: businesses going local’, setting out ways in which local and national Government, alongside businesses such as retailers, can work in partnership to ensure healthy high streets.

Gourlay said: “There has never been a more important time for Government and business to take an active interest in how high streets are run and managed.

“More than a third of consumer spending goes through shops, a big contribution to UK plc. At the same time, the pipeline of new developments has reduced to a trickle with the difficult financial times we now find ourselves in - good reason why we should manage our existing assets wisely and well.”

The Government was urged to recognise the importance of business-led local partnerships, ensure quality and consistency of partnerships and facilitate the sharing of best practice.

The involvement of businesses such as retailers in local partnerships has been shown to bring commercial benefits such as improved staff retention and enhanced reputation.

The health of high streets and town centres has shot up the political agenda. Tough trading conditions have resulted in void rates as high as 30% in some places. Last week the Government drafted in reality TV show presenter Mary Portas to advise on the issue.