Former Iceland and Wicks boss Bill Grimsey has launched an independent high street review, in which he calls for national retail chains to pay a one-off levy to support local town centres.
Grimsey warns that many independent retailers “remain horribly stressed financially”, with 46.6% of all UK retailers in the Company Watch warning area.
In order to create a level playing field he urges the government to implement a number of radical actions, including requiring multiples to invest 0.25% of one year’s sales into a local economic development fund to sponsor start-ups, in a similar way to the Prince’s Trust.
He recommends a root and branch review of business rates to establish a flexible system that will reflecting changing economic conditions. In the meantime, the 2015 business rates evaluation should be reintroduced immediately and 2014 rates frozen.
The review envisages the future high street as a community hub in which shops are just a part of the total plan. It calls on the government to appoint a dedicated high street minister and introduce a structured framework and a timetable to bring about change. “Previous initiatives have failed because they did not have defined targets and measures in place,” it concludes.
Grimsey and a team of eight associates produced the review in response to Mary Portas’ government-commissioned high street review, which he claimed “promised the earth but delivered little”.
“My frustration led to public criticism of both Mary Portas and the government for using this serious issue as little more than a PR stunt,” he said.
Read the Grimsey Review here.