- Huw Hughes |
Mike Ahsley’s Frasers Group has criticised the government for delaying a review on business rates, and has warned that some of its stores could close as a result.
Business rates are taxes charged on most non-domestic properties - many retailers consider them to be unfairly calculated. The government has previously promised a “fundamental review” of them and in March announced a year-long business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.
However, on Tuesday the government said the next rates revaluation would not take effect until 2023 based on property values in April 2021.
Frasers Group criticised the decision at a time when the high street “is already in meltdown” and “Covid-19, the lockdown, and its after-effects are now pulverising what remains”.
“The Government stands aside and has buried its head in the sand on the critical business rates issue, raising unfair and uneconomic revenue sums from already distressed businesses,” the company said. “Not only has it kicked the can down the road; it has also kicked businesses when they are clearly down. We expect that the Government's inaction will drive further stores and businesses on our high streets into closure, in the process costing many people their jobs and livelihoods.”
The company went on to warn that the delay could cause many retailers, including itself, to consider closing stores. “As we noted in both our half-year results announced on 16 December 2019 and in subsequent correspondence to the Prime Minister, there are House of Fraser stores paying no rent but still losing money and that a business rates correction could dramatically change the situation in terms of saving stores,” the group said. “However with yesterday's announcement, Frasers Group will again have to carefully review the viability of a number of stores within its portfolio.”