Major retailers across Scotland including Tesco, Marks & Spencer and John Lewis have protested against the Scottish Government’s proposed business rate hike for large retail stores which they warn will jeopardise job growth.

Dozens of retail representatives have formed campaign group Competitive Scotland to protest against the extra tax, and held its first meeting today. The business rate hike applies on stores with a rateable value of more than £750,000, which it says will limit retail expansion in Scotland.

Scottish Retail Consortium director Fiona Moriarty warned that the move, which will affect supermarkets and department stores in the main, would jeopardise job growth.

The scheme will work on a sliding scale, with the lowest rates being 2.5p in the pound, rising to 15p if premises are worth more than £2.1m.

Retail employs about 250,000 people, about 1 in 9 of the Scottish workforce. The big four supermarkets alone plan to open around 21 new stores in Scotland over the next 2 years, which would result in approximately 8,000 new jobs.

Moriarty said:  “Retailers are demonstrating their commitment to Scotland by opening more stores and employing a growing number of local people. It would be terrible to see that growth slowed or halted as a result of the Scottish Government enacting a policy which will make the country a less welcoming place to do business.”

Large retailers already pay around a quarter of all business rates across Scotland, the highest proportion of any sector.  The Government has tabled the levy to raise an additional £30m for its budget.It is expected to vote on the proposed levy on February 2.