Feb 18, 2021

Slash business rates to save High Street, says Next boss

Business rates for High Street retail stores should be slashed by 35%, according to the boss of one of the UK's biggest retail chains Next. Some of the cost to the government of a retail business rates cut could be offset by raising rates on warehouses and online fulfilment centres, he said. "Rents on shops have been coming down, rents on warehouses have been going up and the rates don't fairly reflect the value of warehouse property either. So I think the government can fund some of this by increasing rates on warehousing by around 50%". Wolfson is widely considered to be one of the canniest operators in UK retail and NEXT's significant on-line business has helped the company weather the assault of e-commerce on traditional retail. "The business rate factor was a big, big thing. You go from paying very little or zero business rates in our tiny little place before, to suddenly having a substantial liability and that nearly put me off." "So over the next year or two, having the rates set at a level that is economic and fair is going to make an enormous difference to how many shops stay open in the short term. And it would be a shame for a huge number of shops to shut unnecessarily because rates are too high."

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