You might expect that politicians would be thankful that retailers are creating jobs and prosperity, but there’s one part of the UK where the government seems hell-bent on an anti-big business agenda.
You might expect that politicians would be thankful that retailers are creating jobs and prosperity, but there’s one part of the UK where the government seems hell-bent on an anti-big business agenda. That place is Scotland, and even by the standards of the Scottish government there can’t have many been more hostile pieces of legislation ever produced than the Large Retailer Levy which has been proposed there.
As Retail Week went to press a key committee voted against the proposal, although their rejection still has to be ratified by the Scottish parliament next week. Let’s hope parliament sees sense. The plan - to raise an additional £30m through taxing the largest retailers - would do nothing to help the smaller businesses the government is claiming the policy has been created to support.
What’s crazy is that at a time when new competition is coming from online retailers that don’t pay business rates and don’t employ store staff, penalising bricks-and-mortar stores is even being contemplated. Even worse is the implication in everything finance secretary John Swinney has said is that despite the jobs they create multiple retailers - especially supermarkets - are bad for Scotland.
If Scotland’s government really felt that business had a case to answer, it should have stuck the knife into Scotland’s banks instead. At least that would have the rationale that they played a big part in plunging the UK into the financial crisis which has forced Swinney to raise taxes.
That wouldn’t happen because Scotland’s politicians are too busy scoring cheap points against retailers. Scotland is becoming seen as a difficult place to set up shop thanks to the increasingly eccentric policies of its politicians, something shoppers and retail workers alike won’t welcome.
HMV needs a new song
HMV is in a bad place right now, but the reaction to the removal of some of its credit insurance cover has been excessive. Plenty of retailers that still survive today had cover scaled back in 2008, and HMV benefits from a supplier base that can’t afford for it to go out of business.
But what events have reinforced is that the HMV of the future has to be more radically different than the one Simon Fox has mapped out. The 60 stores announced for closure will sadly be followed by others, and tomorrow’s HMV will need to be an entertainment business that has some stores, rather than a retail business with its name on some venues.