Local councils "don’t care” about the High Street, retail boss says

Published by Scott Challinor on January 13th 2020, 11:11am

Tony Brown, head of troubled retailer Beales has said that councils "really don’t care" about supporting High Street trading.

Speaking to the BBC, Brown said: "We’ve only managed to get one council to help us out on a temporary basis. At the moment, in my view councils really don't care.

"They get their business rates, whether we're there or not, because the landlord pays if the store closes."

Beales has been trading since 1881 but is at risk of going into administration, with 1,000 jobs at its 22 UK stores in jeopardy.

Brown said that the business is weighing up a number of options including finding a new buyer, negotiating reduced rent with its landlords and closing stores down as part of a business restructure to cut costs.

Brown explained that landlords themselves were “mostly” co-operative in their dialogue with the business, but the response from local authorities and central government has been disappointing in his view.

He said: "For example, in a number of our stores, I pay three or four times more business rates than I do rent. Now, that can't be right.

"The sheer weight of the additional costs that are piled on us- if you take the pension increases, you take rates, you take changes in the way we can apply for lending - there is a co-ordinated effort, or what feels like it, to make it [trading on the High Street] as difficult as possible."

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Authored By

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
January 13th 2020, 11:11am

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