Tesco chief executive warns of 'lethal cocktail' of costs for retailers
One of Northern Ireland's biggest employers, Tesco, has warned of a "lethal cocktail" of costs set to hit retailers at a time of low profits.
Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said the retail sector faced £14bn of extra costs in the next five years, including business rates, the new national living wage and a new apprenticeship levy. Tesco employs around 8,000 staff here across around 50 stores.
Mr Lewis told the CBI there could be "unintended consequences".
He said retail firms faced "very significant" new costs which he described as a potential "lethal cocktail".
He said: "Profits are down but business rates are up. For every £1 paid in corporation tax, retailers pay £2.31 in business rates. It is unsustainable."
Mr Lewis said Tesco already paid above the current voluntary living wage but he was concerned there could be pressure to increase basic pay at the expense of other benefits.
Glyn Roberts of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association has raised concerns over the impact the proposed wage, which will increase to £9 by 2020, could have on retailers.