London jewellers angered by ‘crippling’ hike in business rates

LONDON - OCTOBER 28:  Shoppers browse wrist watches in a jeweller's shop window display on October 28, 2008 in central London, England. Retail figures showed some resilience against the onslaught of the financial crisis in October, but with predictions of worse to come, retailers are bracing themselves for a potentially disappointing Christmas.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Businesses call for urgent review of system amidst claims that some retailers face rises of 50% to 100% in coming years.

Jewellery firms in London are among companies lobbying the government to rethink “crippling” hikes in business rates.

New proposals plan to cap the first-year increase at 45% compared with just 12.5% for previous revaluations.

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The increase has been described as an “unnecessary economic blow” to businesses in London.

Yesterday it emerged that 40 business bodies have combined forces to send an open letter to Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, calling for change.

In the letter, which was published in the Evening Standard, they ask for the extra £885m-a-year burden to be phased in over a long period. They also want to see a “fundamental review” of the entire business rates system to ensure London isn’t hit so hard again.

Jewellery retailers working in the heart of the capital face the prospect of seeing their operating costs soar.

Dino D’Auria, co-founder of New Bond Street jewellers Frost of London – which was named independent luxury watch retailer of the year at Professional Jeweller’s sister title WatchPro’s annual awards this week – told the paper that the rates rise has come as a huge blow.

“I am facing rises of 50% to 100% in the coming years. I would love to know where they spend the money. If it was going to put CCTV all over the street and visual security I wouldn’t mind so much,” he said.

Mr D’Auria said the extra taxes meant there was a “less than zero chance” of him opening another shop in London.

Michael Wainwright, managing director of diamond jewellery specialist Boodles, heaped further pressure on London jewellers and other businesses given that lease costs are also spiralling out of control.

“We are facing a rent review in Bond Street in November, which will be equally eye-watering. There is no doubt that property costs in the West End are becoming a huge concern to tenants,” he said.

London-based opponents to the business rates hikes suggest the government should consider measures such as annual revaluations and the possibility of separating London from the national system to ensure it is protected for the future.

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2 Comments

  1. Ian Middleton said:

    Considering our lease in Covent Garden would also have been up for renewal next year, with likely increases of 30-40% on that alone, the decision to sell up in 2013 is starting to look like a really good move!

  2. Wayland Smith said:

    Why would the government do anything to protect these businesses when there are multinational chains waiting to move into vacated premises in these locations.

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