Primark owner calls for rates reform as coronavirus outbreak hits trade

John Bason

Primark parent company ABF’s finance director John Bason has urged the government to address business rates reform as the retail industry battles the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

This morning, ABF said it had shut Primark stores in continental Europe accounting for 20% of space and 30% of sales, and revealed that Primark had suffered a decline in like-for-likes in the UK over the last fortnight.

Government action to combat the infection in countries such as France, Italy and Spain has led to extensive shop closures other than food stores and pharmacies.

Asked whether he expected the UK to follow, Bason said he did not want to speculate. However, he hoped that the government would take action to address the longstanding burden of business rates, which have piled pressure on bricks-and-mortar retailers.

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