The boss of Lush has hit out at the Conservative government over council finances that have left many local authorities unable to invest in ailing high streets across the UK.
Lush chief executive and co-founder Mark Constantine said thousands of stores in the UK have closed in recent years due to this issue and said a rethink was needed to prevent further carnage across high streets.
“The high streets in Britain are deserted,” he told The Times. “If the government wants us to become a nation of retailers and shopkeepers again, then it has to do something about it.”
Constantine, who oversees Lush’s portfolio of more than 100 shops across the UK, said that a reliance on business rates and car parking fees has prevented local councils from being able to actively invest in rejuvenating high streets and town centres.
“Someone has to have the balls to sort out councils – which are all going bust and haven’t got a penny to spare – so that they’re not so reliant on car parking and business rates.
“Their revenue from that is dropping all the time and it’s not working. We have silent high streets.”
Approximately 6,000 shops have closed across the UK over the last five years as vacancy rates reached “critical levels,” according to the latest British Retail Consortium-Local Data Company vacancy monitor.
Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses have also warned of further closures next year due to an inflation-linked rise in business rates bills.
Constantine said the situation will not “improve until the government creates a change”. He called for high streets and town centres to be made “more vibrant” and highlighted a need for “Big Tech” companies to open shops.
“You do have a lot of the innovative tech retailers looking around to move into bricks and mortar. Something has to be done to make that appealing.”