Belfast Telegraph

Was targeting supermarkets with levy fair?

By David Elliot

At 7.30 on a Tuesday morning most journalists know exactly where they want to be; tucked safely under a duvet or contemplating a soothing cup of tea to prepare for a day of fighting with emails, colleagues and the general public.

Place one in front of the chief executive of a FTSE 100 listed company, which also happens to be one of Northern Ireland's biggest employers, at that time of the morning and it takes a while for the shock to subside.

But subside it did and Sainsbury's CEO Justin King proved the perfect antidote to the early morning fog as he completed the first leg of his 32-mile run for Sport Relief.

Of course, to fill these pages we needed something a bit more substantial to go on but in his post-run and rosy-cheeked state Mr King wasn't going to be flustered into anything other than the party line on the large retailer levy, a topic it would be churlish not to mention.

It isn't fair to tax only one sector, he said, without looking to have broken sweat.

It's a good point and surely must have other large business which happen to have sizeable premises here breathing a sigh of relief that they weren't picked on.

No credible explanation has been given as to why supermarkets were singled out; and if mere success makes your company fair game then the likes of Citigroup and NYSE Technologies would be in the firing line too.

Everybody agrees small businesses need help but the process which supports them needs to be transparent and, above all, fair.

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