Coronavirus: Sports Direct Owner Issues Government Store Closure Threat | Economic news

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The owner of Sports Direct and House of Fraser has warned he may be forced to close some of his stores in a new criticism of the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Mike Ashley’s Frasers group, which initially refused to agree to store closures in March under the UK lockdown before issuing creepy excuses, said the decision to delay the next reassessment of business rates until 2023 “kicked” large companies at a time when many were suffering severe financial hardship.

The retail industry has largely blamed corporate tariffs for sustaining a cost crisis before the virus was even heard of, with chains failing or seeking bailout deals as they battled wage hikes minimum and rents at a time of low consumer confidence.

Ministers argued that the delay would “reduce uncertainty” for businesses.

But in a statement to the city on Wednesday, Frasers said the government had “buried its head in the sand on the critical issue of business rates, increasing unfair and unprofitable revenue from already struggling businesses.”

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Mike Ashley’s business empire also includes Newcastle United which he is in the process of selling

The company said it meant paying “outdated” commercial rates, based on 2015 valuations, for the next two years and warned it needed to examine the “viability” of a number of the group’s stores by result.

He did not put a figure on the sites due to being part of the review.

The statement continued, “Not only has this put the can on the road, but also businesses that are clearly down.

“How many High Street businesses have yet to disappear and jobs have to be lost before the government takes this issue seriously?”

are you looking to bring customers back to our high streets? ”

The measures include a temporary suspension of trade tariffs for retailers, targeted VAT cuts and the Chancellor’s so-called meal deal, titled Eat In To Help Out – offering discounts to customers Monday through Wednesday.

The Frasers group has not yet updated the market on the performance of its brand portfolio in terms of sales during the crisis.

Shares have fallen almost 40% since the start of the year.

A Treasury spokesperson said in response to the company’s statement: ‘As part of a £ 22 billion program to support businesses affected by the coronavirus, we have taken the unprecedented step of suspending commercial tariffs for the retail sector for one year.

“We also introduced the job retention program, which paid the salaries of 9.5 million people.

“To provide businesses with greater certainty, we have also proposed the next reassessment of commercial rates to better reflect property values ​​after the pandemic.

“Earlier this month, we featured the second part of our support for the economy, giving businesses the confidence to retain and hire, including supporting jobs with a 1,000 job retention bonus. £ for employers. “

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