Amazon getting ‘free ride’ from UK retailers, Currys boss claims
Amazon is getting a “free ride” from UK retailers by using the country’s infrastructure while swerving taxes, the head of high street electronics retailer Currys said yesterday.
Alex Baldock told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg show Amazon “appear[s] to play by different rules than those of us who actually pay some tax”.
The online retail giant has been accused of reducing its UK tax bills by sticking to a primarily digital footprint. It does pay tax on distribution warehouses.
Bricks and mortar retailers are more exposed to the UK tax system than digital players. Business rates is a tax on physical commercial spaces, which Amazon has managed to largely avoid.
High street retailers have called on the government to tax online marketplaces’ sales to help level the playing field. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in last month’s autumn statement canned plans to launch an online sales tax.
“Amazon ranks in the top 15 largest private sector taxpayers in the UK,” paying £2.77bn in 2021, a company spokesperson told City A.M.
Baldock also confirmed reports in The Telegraph that Currys has temporarily ditched Royal Mail as its delivery provider “for now” to avoid strike-related disruption.
“Obviously our first responsibility is to the four in five UK households who want to get hold of their technology, particularly at this time of year,” he said.
A Royal Mail spokesperson told City A.M. “industrial action [is] undermin[ing] the trust of our customers”.
A Communication Workers Union spokesperson told City A.M.: “This is one of the many avoidable consequences of Royal Mail totally walking away from negotiations with workplace representatives.”
“If Royal Mail don’t quickly understand that their loyal workforce won’t accept the destruction of their livelihoods, strikes will continue, and more businesses will no doubt follow Currys.”