In our recent interview with Signet UK managing director Neil Old, we found out whether the H Samuel and Ernest Jones parent company is happy with the business support offered by the UK Government through the coronavirus pandemic.
“Up to this point, you’ve got to be satisfied with what they did,” argues Neil Old. “And, hats off to the British Government, they moved with speed; the decisions were taken quickly; and the initiatives and the support they put in place – things like furlough and the relief around business rates – were very helpful.”
All in all, then, he is more than content with what has been provided so far for large businesses like Signet.
His concern is what the Government does moving forward. “What will be interesting now,” he says, “is how they continue to support businesses.
By suspending business rates, that was a tacit acceptance that business rates are a heck of a burden on high street businesses.
Hats off to the British Government, they moved with speed.”
“I just hope now that the Government takes this as an opportunity for a complete reform of business rates on the high street.
“If we just go back to where we were, it will certainly slow growth. This is an opportunity now to take a deeper, more meaningful look at the structure of business rates and some, frankly, long overdue reform.”
In conclusion, the MD says: “As I say, to this point, I can’t say that I’m not satisfied. But it’s what they now do.
“You don’t flip the lights back on at the start of April and just think everything’s going to go back to how it was, because it won’t. It will take time. And the Government needs to be cognizant of that.”