Some of the industry’s top names are backing Retail Week and the BRC’s Fair Rates for Retail campaign to lobby the Government to freeze business rates next year, following two years of punitive rates increases.

Alex Gourlay

Alex Gourlay

“At a time when many high streets and town centres are experiencing high levels of vacancy and under use, both the cost of operating in them, and the confidence to invest in them, are key factors determining their future vitality. The current rates system is a substantial contributor to lower investment and growth in high streets. Business rates now constitute the largest proportion of occupational costs in many locations, even greater than the actual rent paid. The setting of each year’s business rate using the previous year’s September RPI is now outdated and should be reformed.”

Alliance Boots Health & Beauty chief executive Alex Gourlay

 

Roger McLaughlan

Roger McLaughlan

“We are supportive of the BRC stance, especially given our large number of stores. This has a significant impact on our cost base and the significant rises over the last couple of years have added to the diificulty of trading during a period of economic uncertainty.”

Toys R Us managing director Roger McLaughlan

 

Gary Grant

Gary Grant

“The high street needs to get back on its feet, we need to bring premises back to life, but business rates are a huge millstone around retailers’ necks. They are so ridiculously high that in the end we have walked away from opening many shops. It is a barrier to expansion. We’ve had a 5% increase in rates but not in turnover which has squeezed salary increases and stopped us doing things we usually would. A freeze on rates would be helpful.”

The Entertainer managing director Gary Grant

 

Michael Sharp

Michael Sharp

“Debenhams has 172 stores around the UK at the heart of the towns and cities they serve. The increase in business rates over the past of the year has added substantially to the cost of operating those stores, at a time when the role they play in those communities is more important than ever. This is an issue which affects retailers of all sizes. While we completely appreciate the pressures on the public purse, the government should look again at how the 2013 increase has been calculated, if it really wants to see our high streets flourish.”

Debenhams chief executive Michael Sharp

 

Dalton Phillips

Dalton Phillips

“Setting business rates on a single month’s RPI is completely arbitrary, yet it impacts investment and jobs all year round.  We’ve got to get a sensible new approach to replace this rates lottery which is damaging confidence and hampering growth.”

Morrisons chief executive Dalton Philips

“Business rates as they are currently calculated are based on an unrealistic view on the real estate market at a time when landlords are working with retailers to make sure rent is affordable. It’s outrageous. We have less opportunity to take people off the dole.”

Aurora chief executive Mike Shearwood

 

Mark Price

Mark Price

“I do not see UK retail being able to cope with a rise in business rates. Every cost to retailers is going up and it is very hard to retrieve in such a tough consumer environment.”

Waitrose managing director Mark Price

 

Andy Clarke

Andy Clarke

“In an environment where there are different cost pressures then any additionalcost is unhelpful.”

Asda chief executive Andy Clarke

 

Stephen Robertson

Stephen Robertson

“Business rates fall disproportionately harshly on retail sector and they’ve gone up dramatically as sales have stagnated. The most important four-letter word in Westminster should be jobs but another £200 million next year can only lead to more closed shops and fewer chances of work for those, including young people, who need them most.The Government must act on its promise to review the system. Shifting from RPI to an annual average of CPI would provide more consistency and fairness. And it should recognise that retail has already more than made its contribution by freezing rates in 2013.”

British Retail Consortium director-general Stephen Robertson   

Fair Rates for Retail

Join the Retail Week and BRC campaign to reform the outmoded business rate system

 

 

Fair Rates for Retail: Retail leaders lend their support