// Frasers Group calls business rates relief extension a “near worthless” package
// The group – which owns Sports Direct – said the measure would prevent it from buying former Debenhams stores
// The measure would also force a review of its own estate
Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group has called the extension to business rates relief a “near worthless” package that would refrain it from purchasing former Debenhams stores and force a review of its own estate.
The retail group said the £2 million rates cap on businesses from July 2021 to March 2022 to help hard-hit retailers through the Covid-19 crisis “makes it a near worthless support package for large retailers”.
The measure was unveiled alongside other initiatives in Wednesday’s Budget by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
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“For Frasers Group this cap will make it nearly impossible to take on ex-Debenhams sites with the inherent jobs created,” Frasers Group said.
“It will also mean we need to review our entire portfolio to ascertain stores that are unviable due to unrealistic business rates.”
The company said many retailers would have expected suitable relief “until structural reform is implemented”, adding that firms “should pay the fair amount of rates in line with realistic rateable values”.
In January, Boohoo Group bought the Debenhams brand and website for £55 million.
Sunak extended a business rates exemption for hospitality businesses including restaurants and pubs have been hit hard by the pandemic.
The extension will be followed by a further six-month period where rates will be discounted to one third of the normal charge, up to a maximum of £2 million for closed businesses.
Tax and spending elements of Sunak’s plans were severely criticised on Thursday by the influential Institute for Fiscal Studies as undeliverable.