John Lewis Partnership chairman Charlie Mayfield called on Government to analyse the impact of the proposed rise in business rates ahead of the Budget later this month.
Mayfield said: “They need to moderate the increase in business rates. The high street is changing and the tax system needs to keep up with that.”
The BRC and Retail Week’s Fair Rates for Retail campaign calls on Government to freeze business rates this year, which threatens to add £175m to their bills.
Retailers have had to pay an additional £500m in business rates as a result of two consecutive years of onerous rates rises.
He added that it was “helpful” that the Government is looking at the amount of corporation tax paid by large multinationals including online rival Amazon.
Mayfield said consumer confidence has become “more stable” over the last year.
He said: “Government has a difficult challenge. Restoring public finances is very important and they must continue to develop a high quality infrastructure. Government needs to deliver on both.”
He added: “The market still looks subdued. Consumer sentiment is more stable. Some uncertainties have eased somewhat. This year has turned out economically to be tougher than people expected a year ago.
“Last year we had the Eurozone crisis and there is concern over public finances still but that’s not new.”
Mayfield also called on Government to analyse the impact of the proposed rise in business rates ahead of the Budget later this month.
Mayfield spoke as the partnership unveiled a 15% uplift in operating profits to £452.4m in the year to January 26. Like-for-like sales at John Lewis rose 10.5% while sister grocer Waitrose reported a 3.4% rise.
Waitrose managing director Mark Price defended the grocer’s position after it admitted beef meatballs sold last year had been contaminated with pork DNA following the horsemeat scandal.
Price said the way in which Waitrose dealt with the manner – in independently testing products without being asked by the Food Standards Agency – “says everything about the integrity of Waitrose”.
Price said despite the pork contamination “I still believe you get what you pay for. The price in front of the goods is a pretty good indicator of quality,” he said.
Video: John Lewis Partnership reports 17% bonus as profits soar 15.8%
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John Lewis Partnership chairman Charlie Mayfield calls on Government to 'moderate' rates rise