James Moore: SuperGroup's solution for business rates is likely to fall on deaf ears, too


Outlook SuperGroup is expanding superfast but it would like to grow even faster, and that should be good for us because it would create jobs and stimulate the economy.

Unfortunately, the retailer has a problem. It's called business rates. Same old, same old, you might think. Just another wealthy business whinging about tax it doesn't want to pay. Hey, everyone's getting squeezed. That would be a shade unfair to SuperGroup and its chief executive Julian Dunkerton, with whom I talked yesterday.

He's got a solution he says would enable him to get new shops into all sorts of places where the numbers don't add up right now, while still protecting the taxpayer. It is to calculate business rates as a percentage of the rent paid by a shop owner. This, incidentally, would still allow the usual reliefs and concessions to be offered the little guys that need them (they'd pay a lower percentage).

And it would solve the problem with the current system, which has lost any connection with the economic reality faced by would-be high street occupants. They are dealing with rising costs, financially constrained customers and intense competition from the internet. Rents have fallen in many places in recognition of this. Business rates – based on an open-market rentable value as at April 2008 – remain stubbornly high so the premises available on too many high streets are uneconomic.

The British Retail Consortium is working on ideas of its own with EY but until now the Government has turned a tin ear. It is unlikely Mr Dunkerton will do much better.

So high streets will continue to decay, comprising only bookies (although they too are starting to close), charity outlets and boarded-up shopfronts.

Don't cry for Mr Dunkerton. He's doing just fine, with sales up a fifth and the shares climbing. With a burgeoning overseas business, and various celebs photographed draped in his SuperDry label, prospects are bright. Plenty of high streets need him more than he needs them.

Meanwhile, we've had a gimmick from the Coalition – its 12 Portas Pilot towns receiving money for a spruce-up. And a gimmick from Labour, with its pledge to cut business rates by reversing a cut in corporation tax, thus robbing Peter to pay Paul.

As other, less successful, retailers give up the fight, politicians wonder why they don't get any respect. And why the young, and the not so young, wearing Superdry hoodies listen to people who deride them.

Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Quantitative Risk Manager

Up to £80000: Saxton Leigh: My client, a large commodities broker, is looking ...

COO / Chief Operating Officer

£80 - 100k + Bonus: Guru Careers: A COO / Chief Operating Officer is needed to...

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments