Debenhams Swansea: store's survival linked to business rates
Debenhams has filed an appeal to a local tribunal in Swansea to fight an increase in its business rates bill. The appeal’s outcome could determine the future of its store in the city, the retailer has warned.
Debenhams is opposing an increase that will raise its Swansea rates bill by 12%, taking the cost of operating the anchor store in the Quadrant Shopping Centre to £1.1 million.
Earlier this year, the department store secured an agreement with Swansea Council to defer business rates until 31 March, 2021. The deal was one of many Debenhams reached with retail landlords across the UK as part of wider efforts to support struggling retailers during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to The Times, Debenhams will start a nationwide fight to push for more 'realistic' business rates, arguing that the current system lacks common sense.
Eighteen Debenhams stores have closed their doors permanently since the lockdown, with 6,500 staff made redundant.
The company said: “The Swansea hearing is a vital test case, with serious implications for jobs, both locally and across the UK. The outcome will go a long way to defining the future of every one of our stores.
“Currently, we have a completely unsustainable situation where rents are going down, but our rates bill is going up . . . Unless common sense prevails, the end result of rates rises will be further store closures and more job losses.
“The outcome of the Swansea tribunal will go a long way to determining the ultimate size of the business.”
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