Tackling unfair business rates was top of the agenda at the BRC retail summit for finance directors as an online retail tax was dismissed.

Finance directors from about 30 retailers, including Boots UK, met on July 8 to discuss an overhaul of the tax system, which has been widely criticised for putting huge cost pressures on the sector.

Following the meeting, the BRC intends to pull together a document that will clearly set out the impact of business rates on the retail sector.

BRC director of business and innovation Tom Ironside said: “It will provide the right evidence base to inform change. It will focus on business rates and what needs to be fixed in the system.

“It will certainly form part of the evidence to Government, giving them a much clearer picture of the retailer contribution.

“There is the feeling that the current system is not fit for purpose.”

Meanwhile, those present agreed that it would be counter-productive to create an online tax to ‘level the playing field’ with physical retailers who pay vastly more in business rates.

In a statement following the meeting, BRC director-general Helen Dickinson said: “There was consensus that the idea of seeing parts of the retail industry in conflict isn’t in the interests of the industry and, most importantly, it isn’t what customers want.

“Business rates is the core issue for UK retail, and there was broad consensus that the steep successive rises of the last few years are impacting on retailers’ decision-making like never before, especially against a backdrop of the industry’s total tax contribution having risen significantly.”

Retail Week has been lobbying the Government to create a fairer property tax system after retailers’ rates bills increased by more than £500m over the past three years.