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Mike Ashley calls for new online retailer tax

House Of Fraser owner tells MPs he fears ‘mainstream High Streets are already dead’

MIKE Ashley has called on MPs to impose a new tax on any retailers who make more than a fifth of their income online, warning that the “internet is killing the High Street”.

Retail Gazette reported today, Tuesday, December 4, that the Sports Direct owner (pictured) appeared in front of the Government’s Housing & Local Government Select Committee yesterday after demanding a full hour with them to discuss what needed to be done to save Britain’s embattled High Streets.
Taking up significantly more than the 15 minutes the MPs had requested, the man who has saved House Of Fraser painted a bleak picture of the state of physical retail in the UK, stating that they would not survive until 2030 should a radical change not be made.
“I want to make it crystal clear, the mainstream High Streets as we think about it today – not the Oxford Streets and the Westfields – are already dead,” he said.
“They can’t survive…outside of London it’s going to be a ghost town.”
To counter its demise he became the latest retail big name to propose increased taxes on online retailers such as Amazon and Asos, which have come under fire this year for the disproportionate amount of tax they pay compared to retailers with a physical presence.
He suggested imposing further taxes on any retailers who make more than 20 per cent of their income online should would encourage High Street retailers to open more stores, rather than continue the shift to web-based operations.
“It’s not House Of Fraser’s fault, it’s not Marks & Spencer’s fault, it’s not Debenhams’ fault the high street is dying,” Mike, who acquired HOF out of administration earlier this year, told MPs.
When asked by the committee about HOF’s future he suggested a tie up between his recently acquired department stores and Debenhams, in which he holds around a 30 per cent stake, could still be on the cards, adding “they should work together”.
He also took aim at the current business rates system, calling it “prehistoric”, while suggesting the retail industry needs to “come together and look at this” in order to save the High Street.
“I know it sounds very socialist, I’m not this crazy capitalist that everybody thinks I am,” he added.


Image from www.retailgazette.co.uk


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