UK retail industry “must stay open” post-lockdown, says Ocado chairman

The British retail sector must remain open post-lockdown, Ocado chairman Stuart Rose said on Tuesday, ahead of the prime minister’s “road map” out of lockdown next week.

Last week the British Retail Consortium reported that Britain’s three national lockdowns have cost non-food stores, mainly non-essential retailers, an estimated £22 billion in lost sales.

“The short-term need is for us to have some clarity,” Rose told the BBC. “We need to have confidence that when we re-open again we will stay open.
He added: “Businesses are not designed to stop and start, you just cannot do that.”

The Ocado chairman also said that chancellor Rishi Sunak should avoid tax increases in the upcoming March budget.

“The second thing the government needs to do is make sure we don’t do anything stupid,” he said. “Let’s not change tax rates, let’s not do anything with VAT, let’s make sure that we actually give people the confidence of knowing that nothing will change in the short term.”

Rose called on the government to continue its furlough scheme, as well as to extend the business rates holiday for the retail market.

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