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Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group hits out at Government over business rates delay

The Sports Direct owner warned it will review its store portfolio in light of the Government’s decision to delay the revaluation.

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Mike Ashley is one of the most prominent figures in British retail (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Mike Ashley is one of the most prominent figures in British retail (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Mike Ashley is one of the most prominent figures in British retail (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Mike Ashley’s retail vehicle Frasers Group has warned it will have to review the future of some of its stores in light of the Government’s decision to delay the revaluation of business rates.

The company said it looked on “with anguish and bewilderment” after it was announced on Tuesday that the next valuation of the property tax will take place in 2023.

In a statement to the stock market, Frasers said that it will continue to pay “outdated” business rates based on 2015 valuations for the next two years.

High street units have seen their values decline in recent years as shoppers have increasingly shifted to online retailers.

Mr Ashley’s firm, which runs Sports Direct, said that the Government has now stood aside and “buried its head in the sand on the critical business rates issue, raising unfair and uneconomic revenue sums from already distressed businesses”.

How many more businesses on the High Street have to disappear and jobs be lost before the Government takes this issue seriously?Frasers Group

Frasers said it will now have to carefully “review the viability” of a number of stores within its portfolio.

It added that it expects the move will “drive further stores and businesses on our high streets into closure”, costing many jobs.

In the statement, it added: “Not only has it has kicked the can down the road; it has also kicked businesses when they are clearly down.

“How many more businesses on the High Street have to disappear and jobs be lost before the Government takes this issue seriously?

“How does the Government reconcile its maintenance of a punitive and outdated business rates regime, with its predictable and devastating effect on the viability of bricks and mortar businesses, with its recent policy decisions seeking to have customers return to our high streets?”

PA