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Debenhams to tell councils that rate cuts are required to save stores

Tom Shearsmith
27 February 2020

Debenhams is to reportedly offer local councils an ultimatum, with the aim of securing business rates cuts, as it draws up plans for a fresh wave of shop closures.

The department store chain is due to hold talks with individual councils in an effort to inform them that a refusal to lower rates bills could pose a threat, according to reports from Sky News.

Reports suggest that the willingness of councils to agree to cuts will help to determine the locations of 28 further stores which will be closed by the end of 2022. Debenhams initially said it would seek to shut a total of 50 shops, with around 100 remaining.

In a statement, a Debenhams spokesman said: "22 of those 50 stores have closed already and we are currently working to identify the remainder."

The news follows as retailers continue to make calls on the Government to take urgent action on business rates and overhaul the transitional relief scheme.

Transitional relief is supposed to help businesses not be overburdened with their rates bills soaring following a revaluation of the amount due.

Limits are in place to help those who are underpaying stagger the upwards transition to a higher bill, funded by overpayers slowing the speed at which their lower bill is introduced. But retailers are angry that lower bills are not cut quicker, due to the transition.

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