Frasers Group warns of possible store closures

Frasers Group has warned that it will be forced to close stores after the chancellor announced “near worthless” support measures on businesses rates in the budget.

The retail group, which is controlled by Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley, said that High Street retailers had been lobbying for structural reform of business rates to help the industry but “none had been forthcoming” in Wednesday’s budget.

The group, which owns Sports Direct, House of Fraser and Evans Cyles said that the £2 million rates cap announced for businesses from July would not be of any help to large retailers.

High Street retailers have been left reeling following the economic impact of the pandemic and the massive consumer shift to online shopping.

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, the group said: “The £2m rates cap on 'businesses' from July 2021 to March 2022, makes it a near worthless support package for large retailers.

“For Frasers Group this cap will make it nearly impossible to take on ex-Debenhams sites with the inherent jobs created. It will also mean we need to review our entire portfolio to ascertain stores that are unviable due to unrealistic business rates.”

Last week Frasers Group warned that it expected take a hit of more than £100 million after the government announced that non-essential retailers would have to wait until 12 April to reopen as part of the lifting of Coronavirus restrictions lift.

The group said it believes that “retailers should pay the fair amount of rates in line with realistic rateable values, but instead we continue to have an unwieldy, overly complex, and out of date business rates regime.”

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