Letter: Retailers should look at rents and rates

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The Independent Online
Sir: Patrick Hosking reported Richard Hyman as saying that only two costs really matter in retailing: occupancy costs and wages (9 January). Stores, he said, cannot do much about rents and rates. In our view, this gives quite the wrong message to retailers.

The Local Government Finance Act 1988 established that the Uniform Business Rate cannot rise faster than the rate of inflation each September. But ratepayers have, as always, a right of appeal against the rateable value of their property. Very significant reductions can be obtained when the statutory definition is correctly applied to individual properties.

As far as rents are concerned, many retailers have taken advantage of the current state of the market to negotiate nil increases on review or lease renewal.

Retailers, therefore, should be in no doubt that in today's recessionary conditions they should be examining every element of their costs. That applies to their rent and rates every bit as much as to wage bills and occupancy costs.

Yours faithfully,


Chairman, Local Taxation Panel

The Royal Institution

of Chartered Surveyors

London, SW1

13 January