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Shopping centre bosses list pleas to Chancellor to help the High Street

Joanna Bourke
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Hammerson’s chief executive and a host of other shopping centre bosses on Monday listed their demands for the new Chancellor, in a bid to help ease turmoil on the High Street.

The plea to Rishi Sunak, who replaced Sajid Javid last week, comes as landlords are increasingly seeing tenants struggle amid competition from online retailers, weaker consumer confidence and soaring business rates. Retail property values have been dropping too.

David Atkins, boss of Hammerson which is behind the Brent Cross mall, said: “An immediate and substantial overhaul of the business rates system that overly burdens the retail sector is required.”

He warned: “Retailers with both an online and in-store presence are not given the chance to prosper as a result of the current system, including the fact they don’t operate on a level playing field with pure online players.”

Ed Cooke, chief executive of retail property organisation Revo, called for a “new and fundamental” review of business rates, to include a digital tax for online firms to make competition fairer.

Cooke also wants Sunak to invest in more and better resources, such as IT and staff, to deal with the high levels of business rates appeals from retailers.

Allan Lockhart at NewRiver, which owns the Grays shopping centre in Essex, said the Government could look at reducing stamp duty for retail property to encourage investment.

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