History was made today when Keir Starmer became the fifth Labour Party leader to bring a period of Conservative leadership to a close. But what does retail make of the victory? Retail Week gathers the industry’s reactions

Alex Baldock-people-prospect

Alex Baldock, Currys

Currys chief executive Alex Baldock: 

“Retail matters. We account for 3 million jobs and £17bn of tax, and can play a starring role in helping the new government power growth, jobs and prosperity for all. Retailers are looking for stability, of course, but also for government to provide the conditions for growth through better skills, infrastructure and planning.

“Most of all, we must urgently fix the broken, damaging and unfair burden of business rates. We urge the government to consult and act on all of this and, as they do so, we at Currys will engage with them all the way.”

Dee Corsi

Dee Corsi, New West End Company

New West End Company chief executive Dee Corsi: 

“Today’s result will bring much-needed certainty to businesses across the capital. Labour’s promise to deliver economic growth for Britain is reassuring for all who want to see our high streets thrive, and the new government’s commitment to tackling a troubling rise in retail crime, reforming the outdated planning system holding back investment, and revising the burdensome business rates system is encouraging. Now, over the next 100 days, we must see swift action to turn these pledges into credible policies, constructed in close dialogue with the business community.

”If the new government is truly committed to delivering growth for the UK, it is absolutely critical that businesses are invited to help shape the solutions to these thorny issues. As the voice of over 600 businesses with a presence in the West End and nationally, we are ready and waiting to partner with Labour to inform policies that will deliver on our shared vision for growth and restore the UK’s competitive edge on a global stage.”

Helen Dickinson

Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson:

“The country has made its decision and we now look forward to getting down to business with the new government. Retail is an important source of employment and investment in every part of the country, and through its scale and reach can make a big contribution to Labour’s policy goals. Finding ways to unlock this contribution over the next five years should be a shared endeavour between the new government and the retail industry.

“Labour’s manifesto made some crucial commitments for retail, from reforming business rates, planning and the apprenticeship levy to introducing a specific offence for assaulting a retail worker, and we now await the details of how these will be taken forward.

“Labour recognised that the business rates system is broken. With retail paying 22% of the total rates bill while accounting for 5% of the economy, it is the number one thing in the way of increased retail investment that could unlock growth across the economy. So we look forward to further engagement on the details as the work starts here in turning commitments into delivery.”

Scott Parsons COO URW

Scott Parsons, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield UK chief operating officer Scott Parsons: 

“This election result is an exciting moment for the country and an opportunity to refresh the relationship between business and government and how they work together to deliver for communities. When it comes to the retail sector, we have two top asks for the new Labour government. The first is to do what no previous government has been able to achieve and reform business rates once and for all, and the second is to abolish tourist tax.

“Tackling these issues effectively will not only help save our high streets, but it will also unlock growth across the UK, allowing us to better compete on the global stage. Labour’s commitment to working with business leaders is refreshing and I invite our new prime minister and his team to meet with me on behalf of the hundreds of British and global retail brands at Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City to help turn both asks into a reality.”

Chris Brook-Carter

Chris Brook-Carter, Retail Trust

Retail Trust chief executive Chris Brook-Carter:

“Retail employs more people than any other industry outside of the public sector, contributed nearly 5% to the country’s GDP last year and plays a vital role within local high streets and communities across the country. This makes the health and happiness of the sector’s workforce fundamental both to the UK’s economic resilience and our collective sense of wellbeing.

“That’s why we’re calling on strong leadership from the new government around the big issues that are currently causing retail staff and their employers so much uncertainty and insecurity. For example, we hope that Labour’s proposals to reform business rates could start to give retailers of all shapes and sizes more confidence to plan for the future by providing some much-needed stability.

“The promised implementation of the new UK-wide law to make abuse of retail staff a standalone offence is also desperately needed to give staff more protection against the rising levels of abuse and violence, which is threatening wellbeing across the retail industry and damaging its reputation as a great place to build or begin a career.

“Going beyond the retail sector, we’re also calling for any measures focused on encouraging those with mental health conditions back into the workforce to be accompanied by greater commitments from employers to really invest in and develop tailored wellbeing support for their people. This means employers better acknowledging and responding to their responsibilities for their staff’s mental health.

“Above all, our hope is that the government better recognises the fundamental link between happier and healthier people and the economic resilience and productivity of the UK as a whole.”


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