Bill Grimsey, the former boss of Iceland and Wickes, has joined a Labour advisory group, which has been set up to help rejuvenate the high street.
In the new role, Grimsey will be part of a new advisory group, which will advise the Labour Shadow Business (BIS) and Communities & Local Government (CLG) teams on how best to support high streets. He joins other experts in retail, high streets, and local business organisations such as BIDs (Business Improvement Districts).
Last year Grimsey published a review of the high street, which included a plan for boosting the high street and highlighting the challenges retailers face, such as increasing business rates.
Labour has pledged to cut business rates on properties with an annual rental value of less than £50,000 in 2015, back to the level of the previous year.
Members of the advisory group will be looking at successful examples of high street rejuvenation across the country. As part of his role, the retail champion will go on national tour in support of the high street and spread the campaign for Labour’s business rates cut.
Chuka Umunna MP, shadow business secretary, said: “There have been some bright spots for small businesses like the recent Small Business Saturday, which was such a huge success, boosting spending in small and independent shops and highlighting what the high street can offer.
“But we also know many firms are facing the struggle of the cost of doing business, and none more so than the impact of business rates. I’m pleased that Bill Grimsey will be helping us talk to employers and employees about our business rates cut and to understand the challenges they face.
Grimsey said: “Small businesses are being heavily squeezed by big rises in business rates and this is pushing many over the edge. In producing my report I saw just how big an impact business rates have on high street shops. Businesses have been crying out for help for years and Labour’s announcement is a big step in the right direction.”