Frasers Group slams delay of business rates valuation, says stores could close

Frasers Group slams delay of business rates valuation, says stores could close

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. The
government had previously promised a “fundamental review” of business
rates, which many retailers consider to be unfairly calculated. In March,
the government 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 company said: “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

“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.”

Photos: FashionUnited


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