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Fashion multiples sign business rates reform letter

Several major fashion retailers have signed an open letter calling for the business rates system to be reformed.

John Lewis, Karen Millen, Debenhams, New Look and Ann Summers were among more than 100 signatories to the letter, which was issued today (September 16) by the British Retail Consortium to put pressure on Westminster to overhaul the method of calculating and collecting rates.

The BRC said a fundamental review was needed to protect businesses, and it is urging the main political parties to address the issue in the run-up to next year’s general election.

In the letter the coalition of small, medium and large companies stated that the rates system is “no longer fit for the purpose of the 21st century” and is holding back investment across a range of sectors. As well as retailers the signatories includes landlords, commercial property agencies, manufacturers and various industry bodies.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “Today’s open letter proposes that the political parties should make a commitment to look at deeper reform of business rates if they form the next government after the election.

“The sheer breadth of industries represented shows the strength of our collective belief that the existing system is no longer fit for purpose and that we will support the work of a future government to carry out reforms so we can all play our part in growing the UK economy.”

The letter has been backed by a number of property firms and associations, including the British Council of Shopping Centres, the British Property Federation and landlords including Hammerson, Westfield, Intu and Land Securities.

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