Independent store owners are urging their fellow retailers to appeal against new business rates valuations introduced this month.

Values are now calculated based on property rental prices as measured during buoyant conditions in April 2008, which could mean substantial increases for some retailers despite government claims that most would see a reduction in their rates under the new review.

Sunder Sandher who has a Londis store in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, contacted his local council after numerous attempts to determine his new value on the Valuations Office Agency (VOA) website failed. He discovered that his business rates would rise by £1,500 over the next five years.

"I will obviously appeal this," he said. "In this current climate it's just appalling that I'm facing considerably higher bills. I urge other retailers in a similar position to not sit back and take this on the chin. They must get out there and shout about it."

Raj Aggarwal who has two stores in Leicester, also slammed the VOA for the lack of clarity.

"The system is so confusing I have no idea what the outcome will be," he told C-Store. "But I will be furious if my rates have risen as it is only a small store."

Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) public affairs director Shane Brennan also called on retailers to challenge rates they were unhappy with.

However, he urged retailers to be extra cautious when using an agency to help, following a rise in the number of organisations offering to make appeals on retailers' behalf. Many claim they will only take a fee if the appeal is accepted, but all appeals are automatically accepted anyway.

"Retailers should only use approved providers," he added.