Friday 5 March 2021 9:56 am

Mike Ashley's Frasers Group says business rates support 'near worthless' for large retailers

Mike Ashley’s retail empire Frasers Group has warned that the business rates support available from July is “near worthless” for large firms, saying it could be forced to close stores.

The chancellor announced on Wednesday that the 100 per cent business rates relief would be extended to 30 June, with 66 per cent relief available between July and March next year.

Read more: Budget 2021: Business rates holiday extended to end of June

However, this holiday will be capped at £2m per business.

The cap could result in store closures, the retail group, which owns Jack Wills, House of Fraser and Sports Direct, said.

It will review its portfolio of stores to check which sites are unviable due to “unrealistic business rates”.

Frasers, which was formerly known as Sports Direct, said the cap will also make it “nearly impossible” to take on ex-Debenhams sites.

“Frasers Group believes that retailers should pay the fair amount of rates in line with realistic rateable values, but instead we continue to have an unwieldy, overly complex, and out of date business rates regime,” the company said in a statement this morning.

Ashley, the billionaire businessman who founded Sports Direct in 1982, has repeatedly slammed the business rates system. 

Read more: Business rates from the 16th century are ruining the high-street and an online sales tax isn’t enough

In July he warned of store closures after the government postponed a rates review.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic decimated the UK high street, Ashley told the UK government it had “months, not years” to fix the “broken and unworkable” system.