Uncertain future for Sussex stores as national chain warns it could close 100 branches

A national chain, which has stores across Sussex, has warned it could be forced to close as many as 100 of its branches, if business rates do not change.

Tuesday, 18th February 2020, 11:32 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th February 2020, 11:37 am

Shoe Zone today confirmed to this newspaper that it will close a fifth of its UK stores unless the property tax is overhauled.

The retailer, which has stores in Bognor Regis, Burgess Hill, Bexhill, Crawley, Eastbourne, Hastings and Worthing, was unable to confirm which shops would be affected.

The firm has more than 500 stores in the UK and Ireland and employs more than 4,000 employees.

Shoe Zone, Bognor Regis. Photo: Google Street View

It follows a BBC article, in which chief executive Anthony Smith said the firm is closing about 20 stores each year, but pointed out that sales online and in out-of-town areas were 'going well'. He added that rateable value in high street shops were 'still simply too high'.

It was also stated that retailers have called on HM Treasury to reform business rates in the Budget scheduled for next month.

Shoe Zone’s preliminary business rates results were released in January.

A spokesperson said: "Retail is the single largest sector of employment in high street locations providing circa 30 per cent of all employment.

"It is vital that government recognises the impact of the increasing financial burden placed on businesses on the high street by successive governments and their policies."