// Shoe Zone CEO warns of shop closures
// Over 50 major retailers wrote to the government, urging ministers to overhaul business rates
Shoe Zone chief executive Anthony Smith has reportedly warned about shutting down 100 stores unless urgent changes are made to business rates.
Smith said that closing a fifth of the footwear retailer’s stores would be the only option because the government’s rating system was in “total turmoil”, The Times reported.
Last week, over 50 major retailers wrote to the government, urging ministers to overhaul business rates in the Budget next month.
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Smith said that transitional relief meant that shops in struggling towns in the north were being denied the reductions in order to limit bill increases for retailers in London and the south.
Furthermore, he told the BBC‘s Wake Up to Money segment that the high streets need retailers like Shoe Zone to offer “vibrance” to consumers.
He added that although rents had fallen across its 500 shops, the amount it pays in business rates had increased from 26 per cent to 54 per cent over the last 10 years.
In 2019, Shoe Zone’s former chief executive Nick Davis resigned after warning that profits would be lower than expected.
Shoe Zone is closing about 20 stores each year, but it pointed out that sales online and in out-of-town areas were “going well”.
While many retailers have called on the government for a major overhaul of the business rates system, it is not clear whether the Budget scheduled for March 11 will go ahead as planned following last week’s the resignation of former Chancellor Sajid Javid.