Our campaign, led by our Chairman Sir Peter Rogers, continues to make headlines in national media. Most recently it has been referenced in The Sunday Times (see full article below), City AM, Retail Gazette, CoStar, and Retail Sector.
Business rates: one John Lewis store will pay four times the tax of Amazon
By Nicholas Hellen, Social Affairs Editor
The £4.5m tax Amazon pays in Britain will be dwarfed by the rates for a single department store
after huge hikes in April
John Lewis, the embattled retailer whose profits collapsed by 99% in the six months to July, will
be charged £10.5m in business rates for its flagship Oxford Street shop from April, according to
new figures — a 60% rise in three years.
A short walk away, Selfridges’ flagship shop also faces a 60% hike: its business rates bill will
climb to £17.5m. That figure is almost four times the total UK corporation tax paid last year by
the online retail giant Amazon: just £4.5m.
The looming threat to the high street will put pressure on the chancellor, Philip Hammond, to
throw businesses a lifeline when he delivers his budget on October 29.
This weekend, Helen Dickinson, the chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC),
said: “These figures lay bare the shocking burden the business rates regime places on British
retailers, who make up 5% of the economy and pay 25% of business rates — £7bn a year. The
rates bill is leading to store closures, preventing the reinvention of our high streets, and is
damaging communities the length and breadth of the UK.”
The BRC is lobbying for a two-year freeze in business rates until a revaluation in 2021, while the
New West End Company, which represents businesses in London’s West End, is lobbying for a
rates reduction of £5bn. This would be financed by a 1% tax on online businesses but would not
apply to traditional retailers’ internet sales.
High street trading has been squeezed by online shopping, which now accounts for 18.2% of the market, with fewer stores surviving to shoulder the rates burden.
A phased four-year settlement in 2017 will bite hardest from April, with some stores facing huge
increases. Burberry, which this month unveiled a new collection, faces a hike for its London
headquarters of 186% compared with its rates in 2016-17.
In Manchester, Zara must pay £1.26m and Manchester City football club £2.4m, up from £1.7m
Altus Group, the property adviser that researched the figures, found NHS hospitals will have to
pay £386m and council-controlled state schools £957m.
Nickie Aiken, the Conservative leader of Westminster council, said: “Our taxes should reflect our
way of life. I would ask the Treasury: do we want to continue the decline so that the only things
left on the high street are charity shops and betting shops?”