M&S plea for help as energy bill rises by £100m: Boss Stuart Machin launches impassioned request to Jeremy Hunt to help the high street
Feeling blue: M&S wants corporate rate review to offset rising fuel costs
Marks & Spencer is bracing for a £100m increase in its utility bill next year, while its boss Stuart Machin made a passionate plea to Jeremy Hunt to help the high street.
Machin wants the chancellor to cut corporate rates, which is a huge burden on retailers.
The projected increase in fuel costs next year follows a £40m increase this year, hurting profits.
Retail chains are increasingly fearful of rising costs – exacerbated by a rise in business rates, which are set to rise by 10 per cent next year, forcing companies to pay a total of £2.7bn extra.
Machin, who has been instrumental in the ongoing revival of the fashion and food group, wants an overhaul of the corporate pricing system. He labeled the current levy a ‘daylight robbery’.
He said, ‘I’m committed to having great stores. While others go online or go bankrupt, we invest heavily in stores [to complement the digital shop].’
He described the M&S store in Marble Arch as ‘decrepit’, a word likely to infuriate campaigners trying to preserve the flagship store in London, which is slated for redevelopment.
Machin has previously denounced the deterioration of Oxford Street, where the store is located, as a ‘dinosaur quarter’ of vacant units and ‘tacky sweet shops’.
He stressed that M&S and other bricks and mortar retailers employ millions and support UK farms but are at a disadvantage compared to online stores.
“Running a retail store costs a lot more than running an online business, and much of that is due to corporate rates that are unrelated to profit or even reality,” he said.
‘Rates have risen as much as the value of retail property. Honestly, it’s daylight robbery. Therefore, shopping streets and city centers are increasingly filled with vacant and seedy shops.
“As retailers, our job is to innovate and make the tough decisions to keep our businesses going and – if we can – grow in really tough times.
“Everything we ask of the government is a fair chance. We don’t want handouts, we just want honesty.’