Richard Desmond has hailed retailers as “the heart of the Great British community” and urged the Government to better support the industry.
Richard Desmond, owner of Express Newspapers and founder of Northern & Shell, hailed retailers’ entrepreneurial approach and their extensive charity work as he lauded the industry’s role in UK society.
Speaking during his keynote speech on day two of Retail Week Live, Desmond said: “Great British retailers are the heart of the Great British community and they are here for the long haul – none more so than our major supermarket chains.
“I get so fed up with certain malicious papers, that come out daily, knocking our retailers. Our retailers are the heart of this country.”
But despite the Chancellor outlining plans to revamp business rates in yesterday’s Budget speech, Desmond claimed that Government support for the industry “could be better”.
“When I talk to my retail friends, the most generous thing they can say about support from national and local Government is: ‘it could be better’”
Richard Desmond, owner Express Newspapers
He added: “Naturally, with businesses operating for the long term and playing such a key role in British society, we would enjoy massive support from local and national Government, wouldn’t we?
“We belong to an industry that contributes £28bn a year in taxes. As retailers, you should be proud.
“But I’m afraid that when I talk to my retail friends, the most generous thing they can say about support from national and local Government is: ‘it could be better’.
“You are a rapidly evolving business. You are constantly called up to tackle new challenges in order to try and keep customers satisfied.”
Citing the examples of John Sainsbury and Jack Cohen, who founded Sainsbury’s and Tesco respectively, Desmond added: “The bigger retailers have always been entrepreneurial in character, they were started by entrepreneurs.
“It would be very nice to see a business environment that recognises the value and the needs of an entrepreneurial approach.
“Top of the list of issues is usually the size of business rates. £8bn a year – up 35% in the past five years – that’s an increase of £2bn. It’s diabolical.”
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