By Daniel Hunter
A group of retail leaders have written to Financial Times ahead of September's retail prices index (RPI) inflation in a bid to ensure the sector's bills do not rise further still.
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September's Retail Price Index figure will be announced tomorrow (Tues). If the Government follows previous practice and translates it directly into next year's business rates rise, as much as £200 million will be added to the retail sector's bills for 2013.
This would follow eye-watering increases in both 2011 (4.6%) and 2012 (5.6%), a cumulative rise of more than half a billion pounds.
As the sector which pays the largest share of business rates (28 per cent of the total), another steep successive rise would deal a blow to retailers' ability to invest in stores and create jobs, especially in these tough trading conditions. That would mean more empty shops on high streets and fewer employment opportunities, especially for young people.
We urge the Government to recognise that retail has already given more than its fair share to the Exchequer and to freeze business rates in 2013. It should also act on its commitment to review the mechanism by which rates are increased, to ensure a fairer and more sustainable formula for the future.
Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium
Alex Gourlay, Chief Executive (Health and Beauty), Alliance Boots
Andy Clarke, President and CEO, Asda
Michael Green, Chief Executive, BCSC
Alan Hawkins, Chief Executive, British Independent Retailers Association
Peter Marks, Group Chief Executive, The Co-operative Group
Ken McMeikan, Chief Executive, Greggs
Terry Duddy, Chief Executive, Home Retail Group
Charlie Mayfield, Chairman, John Lewis Partnership
Martin Shuker, MD, KFC UK and Ireland
Ian Cheshire, Group Chief Executive, Kingfisher
Dalton Philips, Chief Executive, Morrisons
Chris Brook-Carter, Editor-in-Chief, Retail Week
John Timpson, Chairman, Timpson
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