Five retailers join push
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is urging retailers to join forces with British BIDs, the national body for Business Improvement Districts, in an attempt to improve clarity and awareness of how the rates are spent.

The BRC has already gained the support of five major retailers – John Lewis, Alliance Boots, Next, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s – and it now wants others to follow suit. In an agreement between British BIDs and the BRC, British BIDs will provide details of existing and developing BIDs and information for individual retailers on which of their stores are in which BID area.

BRC director-general Kevin Hawkins said: “If BIDs are done well, they can be an effective way for retailers to work together to improve the places where they trade. But a poor BID is just another tax on business.

“This move shows that retailers accept they need to be influencing results and making sure that BIDs are not just an excuse to ratchet up business rate bills.”

Two years since the first BID ballot, there are now 53 BIDs in the UK, with at least seven more ballots imminent. The pace of growth has left many retailers struggling to keep tabs on new proposals and respond to the increasing number of ballots.

BRC head of property Paul Browne said: “Some retailers can’t keep up with the amount of BIDs on the table. Each one needs to be assessed individually and this takes up a lot of time. By joining British BIDs, information can be targeted to that retailer and the process will become clearer.”

Alliance Boots public affairs manager Andy Godfrey said that the retailer has been committed to the principle of BIDs since their inception, but will not support ill-conceived BIDs. “The services provided by the BRC and British BIDs will enable a more co-ordinated response from the retail community, allowing businesses to become more actively involved in the BID development process.”

A BID is a defined area of a town, city or commercial district where business rate-payers have voted to fund improvements beyond those delivered by local Government.