Warren James expansion plans hit by high business rates

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British jewellery multiple Warren James has revealed the company would have opened 50 new shops in the last five years if it were not for high business rates.

Talking to The Daily Telegraph, the jewellery retailer’s director explained how the cost of business rates has made shops unviable to trade from.

Warren James director Guy Lightowler shared that in many cases, the cost of business rates was higher than the cost of rent.

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While the business has opened 100 shops in the last four years, business rates is the biggest factor dictating where the company has opened new doors.

“The cost has massively held us back in terms of expansion,” Lightowler told The Daily Telegraph. “We could have opened another 50 shops but the rates are preventing us doing that.”

Business rates are revaluated every five years, with the Government making adjustments to reflect changes in the property market.

The next revaluation in England, Scotland and Wales will happen in April 2017. There’s currently no date set for Northern Ireland.

As most of Warren James’ stores are based outside of London, the company should overall experience lower business rates once the new values come in.

However, while the jeweller can afford to pay rates, many other businesses have not been able to and in turn the high street has increasingly suffered from empty units.

Lightowler continued to tell The Daily Telegraph: “There have been shops that we’ve walked away from because although we can pay the rates, others can’t and so the shops around our shop would be empty. We want to be on thriving high streets.”

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