Retail news round-up on March 14, 2016: Tesco boss asks for business rates' review, Sir Philip Green could be asked to help gap BHS' pension deficit and Lombok up for sale.
Tesco chief Lewis demands reform of business rates
Tesco boss Dave Lewis has called on the government to undertake a fundamental review of the increase in business rates in the upcoming budget.
Lewis warned Chancellor George Osborne that failing to do so will put intolerable pressure on the retail sector and also risk jobs, The Guardian reported.
He said business rates regime were “completely disproportionate” and the fact they are linked solely to property puts bricks-and-mortar retailers at a disadvantage.
“If the government is not careful, it is going to keep piling on the burden. Business rates are the single biggest tax Tesco pays – £700m a year”, Lewis added.
Sir Philip Green could be told to pay £280m to bridge BHS pension gap
Billionaire tycoon Sir Philip Green could be asked to pump in £280m to gap BHS’ pension scheme deficit, The Guardian reported.
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is thought to be examining whether to order Green to pay £280m of the £300m it would cost the “lifeboat” Pension Protection Fund (PPF) to make good the gap if it is called upon to take the scheme on.
The amount represents 12.5% of Green’s estimated net worth of £3.5bn.
Fnac eyes alliance to stay in race to acquire Darty
French books and music chain Fnac is looking for partners to remain in the race to acquire UK-listed electrical goods company Darty, according to a French newspaper.
The move comes after South African retailer Steinhoff's Conforama unit tabled a rival cash offer to buy the retailer.
"Held back by tight cash, Fnac mulls an alliance with a partner that would bring funding," Le Journal Du Dimanche reported, without citing its sources.
Furniture retailer Lombok put up for sale
Privet Capital, the private equity buyer of Lombok, has hired Cavendish as advisers after the upmarket furniture chain has been put up for sale, according to The Daily Telegraph.
The sale is likely to fetch the chain between £10m and £15m.
Visits to high street down almost 3% in February
UK retail footfall fell 1.1% last month as shoppers favoured purpose-built retail parks.
High street visits dropped 2.9% year-on-year in February, according to figures from Springboard and the British Retail Consortium.
Shopping centres had fewer visitors, down 0.6%, but retail parks recorded 2.5% rise, partly as a result of additional attractions such as restaurants and entertainment.
Springboard’s marketing and insights director Diana Wehrle said the disproportionately large fall in high street shopping traffic was down to “the tough retail trading environment”, which has led to shops competing on price to capture customers’ disposable income.