Apr 25, 2023
Reading time
2 minutes
Download the article
Click here to print
Text size
aA+ aA-

Burberry chair slams VAT-free shopping axe, PM promises to look at the data

Apr 25, 2023

Big names are continuing to pile the pressure on the UK government regarding its ongoing lack of enthusiasm for restoring VAT-free shopping for tourists in Britain.


On Monday, it was the turn of Gerry Murphy, the chairman of Burberry, who called the decision to cancel the shopping perk back when Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was Chancellor of the Exchequer a “spectacular own goal”.

He said that the decision has been responsible for deterring shoppers and visiting the UK post-Brexit, which itself was a drag on business.

And he had the chance to tell the PM how he felt directly at a business event attended by the leader of the government in London.

But the PM defended the decision, saying there were good reasons for taking it.

Murphy said the lack of VAT refunds for high-spending tourist shoppers had made Britain the “least attractive” shopping destination in Europe.

He made the claim at the Business Connect conference in front of hundreds of chief executives who were able to question the PM.

Despite Murphy praising Sunak as “obviously more business-friendly than some predecessor administrations,” he was very direct in criticising the “somewhat perverse” decision to change the rules for tourists shoppers, as well as saying that quitting the EU “has had a significant friction effect on trade”.

He asked the PM “to look at this specific” issue - that is, the VAT refund problem, adding that it didn’t only hurt the luxury segment but also the travel sector.

And while Sunak saying there were good reasons for ending the shopping perk might be seen as bad news for any chance of the decision to be reversed, he did hold out some hope. He said the data would be looked at look to “see if things are panning out as we expected or not. We take this very seriously, we are here to listen and engage”.

Copyright © 2023 FashionNetwork.com All rights reserved.