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Viewpoint - 07/10/2013

Retailers lack consensus on business rates

With the Portas review now a fading memory, ex-Wickes boss Bill Grimsey has published his own perspective on the plight of the High Street.

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Grimsey’s thirty-one point plan hardly trips off the tongue, and the spat with Mary Portas is an unfortunate distraction. However, it’s encouraging that beyond the vision of a networked high street with free parking and some joined-up planning, the primary focus of both reports is business rates.

Report demands direct action on rates

Whereas Portas suffered from a poor grasp of the technicalities, Grimsey dedicates nine pages of his report to direct action on business rates, and attributes eight of his recommendations to the question of rating and revaluation.

Doubtless, there is value in the self-appointed continuing to lock horns with the government on the question of rating reform. However, it would be helpful if the retail industry could agree upon its core demands.

Chancellor deaf to High Street concerns

The Chancellor has recently announced that his ‘Plan A’ austerity strategy has been successful and that growth will come. With the 2015 general election now firmly on the political horizon, the government is unlikely to agree to alteration of its taxation strategy in response to one individual’s well-meaning opinion.

However, if Grimsey and Portas could align the opinions of Topshop, M&S, John Lewis, Boots and the like into a single voice, then perhaps the government would sit-up and take note.


This article is part of the autumn 2013 edition of Rating in Brief.

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