The business rates battle continues with Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe launching an attack on the government.
Coupe, who said high streets “face serious challenges”, is the latest in a spate of high-profile retail figures to oppose the new rates revauluation that are set to come into effect in April.
Last week, the Institute of Directors issued a similar warning, arguing that the new rates would see an imbalance between taxes for online retailers with large warehouses, and smaller high street businesses.
The British Retail Consortium, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and high-profile retail expert Mary Portas have also condemned the move.
“The way it currently stands, there is an advantage for those without bricks and mortar operations, so there’s a strong case for a level playing field in business rates and taxation more generally,” Coupe said.
“Businesses like ours with lots of property and employees face a bigger burden than others.
“Our challenge to the government is for a fundamental reform of business rates, because we believe it is an archaic and outdated system. More than that, we’d like the government to look at business taxation in general.
“We could see high streets face serious challenges and ultimately more closures. It could impact investment in places that most need it, in areas of the country where there is already a marginal call on investment.”
Sainsbury’s itself could see its tax bill shoot up from £120 million to nearly £500 million.
Despite transitional reliefs being put in place to ease the transition, half a million firms could have a tax increase of up to 300 per cent, according to the FSB.
London businesses are expected to be worst hit, as property prices have risen so sharply since the last rates revaluation seven years ago.
Taxes in the city are expected to rise by around £9 billion in the next few years.
The government has hit back at criticism, branding these statistics “scaremongering” and arguing that three quarters of business would see rates fall.