Bournemouth University

Business rates 'too much for retailers'

Exterior of Shoe Zone store
Shoe Zone

The boss of Shoe Zone has called on the government to take urgent action to cut business rates in an effort to stem High Street store closures.

Speaking to the PA news agency, chief executive Anthony Smith said "maybe 20% of stores could close if rates don't change". The chain has already secured rent reductions in order to protect the future of some shops.

Shoe Zone was reporting a fall in pre-tax profits of 15% to £9.6m in the year to 5 October, amid rising costs.

Mr Smith told PA: "We need a change to the rates system because the current cost of rates is too much for retailers, particularly in small towns.

"Current rates don't reflect the market. All we want to see are rates which are aligned with the current rental property market.

"We are a business that is looking to really expand but our numbers haven't really moved over the past year. We've opened about 20 stores and then closed around 20 over same period."

Mr Smith added that the company paid more in business rates in 2019 than it did in 2009, even though it store numbers had fallen from about 800 to 500 over that time.

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