Argos boss: 'George Osborne should freeze business rates'
Terry Duddy calls for review of tax paid out to local councils – and Vince Cable agrees with him
ARGOS BOSS Terry Duddy has called on George Osborne to freeze business rates in next week's Budget ahead of an estimated 2.6 per cent rise in the levy in April.
Duddy, chief executive of Argos’s owner Home Retail Group, said it was "just the start" of what the Chancellor could do for businesses. He told the Daily Mirror: “You have to look at the wider issue of taxation.”
The comments came just a day after Business Secretary Vince Cable said he was seeking a review of how rates are set. He told a conference organised by Retail Week it would be "healthy" to have a debate about "how the taxation of commercial properties would operate".
As the Financial Times reported, Cable is pushing to extend the business rate relief for small companies beyond 2014 and wants to create a "level playing field" between high street shops and international businesses who can use legal loopholes to avoid tax.
Business rates are set by central government and then distributed to councils according to the size of local authorities. At the beginning of the new tax year on 5 April, Britain's high street retailers will face an estimated 2.6 per cent rise in rates.
Despite Duddy's plea for Osborne to halt the rise, the Home Retail Group is performing strongly. The company recently raised its profit forecast on the back of customers' strong demand for tablet devices and fridges.
Home Retail Group now expects pre-tax profits for the year to hit £90m. In response, its shares rose 16p, or 12 per cent, to 148.9p, their highest level since July 2011. Duddy also praised the continued growth of the Argos internet operation, which now constitutes 43 per cent of its sales. ·