Retail chiefs write to Prime Minister warning against lockdown extension

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The leaders of some of the high street’s biggest names have written to Prime Minster Boris Johnson to urge him to allow the re-opening of non-essential retail at the start of December saying an extension of the lockdown would be devastating for the sector.

More than 60 CEO and senior directors from retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Next, JD Sports, Gap, River Island, Debenhams, Reiss, Dune, Radley+Co, Harvey Nichols, Superdry, New Look, Space NK, The Body Shop, The White Company and Ann Summers have signed the letter pointing out that the closure of non-essential stores had had minimal impact on the transmission of COVID-19.

The leaders argue that they need clarity now on whether they would be able to re-open when the current lockdown is due to end on 2 December. If the lockdown is extended, they warn that more stores would remain closed forever.

In the letter co-ordinated by the British Retail Consortium, which has also been signed by Bira on behalf of independent retailers, they say: “With less than two weeks to go until the chancellor’s spending review, it is vital that retailers get the clarity they need over the future.

“A continued period of retail closure will see more shuttered high streets and many more job losses at the heart of the festive season. Retailers of all shapes and sizes must be allowed to reopen by the start of December. Without this, there will be little festive cheer left on our high streets.”

The closure of non-essential retail is said to be costing the sector £2bn a week in lost sales.

The full text of the letter reads:

“Sir, With less than two weeks to go until the chancellor’s spending review it is vital that retailers get the clarity they need over the future. Christmas is fast-approaching and half of retail has been forced to shut – depriving these stores of around £2 billion per week in sales.

November and December account for over a fifth of all retail sales and if all shops are not allowed to reopen by the start of December, many stores may never reopen putting hundreds of thousands of retail jobs at risk. A continued period of retail closure will see more shuttered high streets and many more job losses at the heart of the festive season.

Government reports have noted that the closure of shops would have a minimal impact on the transmission of Covid. Retailers have invested hundreds of millions in making their stores Covid-secure, keeping both customers and staff safe.

Yet retail stands on the brink and decisive Government action is needed to save it. Retailers of all shapes and sizes must be allowed to reopen by the start of December. Without this, there will be little festive cheer left on our high streets.”

The full list of signatories is as follows:

Alasdair Murdoch, Group CEO, Burger King UK
Alexander Baldock, Group Chief Executive, Dixons Carphone Group
Alia Hawa, Managing Director UK & Ireland, L’Occitane
Andrew Goodacre, Chief Executive, Bira
Andrew Hinds, Director, F Hinds
Andy Lightfoot, Chief Executive, Space NK
Brian Brick, Chief Executive, Moss Bros Group
Chris Holden, Chief Executive, Deichmann UK
Christos Angelides, Chief Executive, Reiss
Colin Temple, Managing Director, Schuh
Daniel Le Vesconte, GVP, Global Brands, EMEA, Abercrombie & Fitch Co
Daniel Rubin, Chairman and CEO, The Dune Group
David Boynton, Chief Executive, The Body Shop
David Butler, Chief Executive, Crew Clothing
Debbie Edwards, Vice President and General Manager, Gap Europe
Dominic Jordan, Chief Executive, Hobbycraft
Doug Putman, Owner, HMV
Ed Duggan, Financial & Commercial Director, Fishpools
Gail Cohen, Director General, UK Gift Card & Voucher Association
Gavin Peck, Chief Executive, The Works
Gerry Murphy, Chairman, Burberry
Gill Smith, Managing Director, The Perfume Shop
Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium
Howard Saycell, Chief Executive, Retra
Jacqueline Gold CBE, Chief Executive, Ann Summers
Jerome Saint-Marc, Chief Executive, Wilko
Jonathan Miller, Chief Executive, McColl’s Retail Group
Julian Dunkerton, CEO and Founder, Superdry
Julie Abraham, Chief Executive, Richer Sounds
Justin Stead, Chief Executive, Radley+Co
Karen Forret, Managing Director, Wilkies Ltd
Leigh Chadwick, Founder Director, Seasalt Ltd
Manju Malhotra, Chief Operating Officer, Harvey Nichols
Mark Gifford, Chairman of Debenhams, Radley and NED at Ann Summers
Mark Jackson, Chief Executive, Bensons for Beds
Mark Neale, Chief Executive, Mountain Warehouse
Mark Warren, Country Director, Rigby & Peller
Mary Homer, Chief Executive, The White Company
Meryl Halls, Managing Director, Booksellers Association
Mike Logue, Chief Executive, Dreams
Mireille Baumgart, Chair, BoConcept / Concept Living
Monica Vinader, CEO, Monica Vinader Ltd
Nathan Smith, Chief Executive, Whittard of Chelsea
Nigel Oddy, Chief Executive, New Look
Oliver Tress, Founder and CEO, Oliver Bonas
Olly Raeburn, Chief Executive, Paperchase
Paul Moody, Executive Chairman, Card Factory
Peter Cowgill, Executive Chairman, JD Sports
Peter J Harrison, Chief Executive, Furniture Village Ltd
Peter Jelkeby, Country Retail Manager and CSO, IKEA UK and Ireland
Phil Briggs, Managing Director, The Original Factory Shop
Rachel Osborne, Chief Executive, Ted Baker
Sanjay Vadera, Chief Executive, The Fragrance Shop
Simon Wolfson, Chief Executive, Next
Steve Johnson, Executive Chairman, Matalan
Steve Rowe, Chief Executive, Marks & Spencer
Sumeet Yadav, Chief Executive, Hamleys
Tim Stacey, Chief Executive, DFS Group
Tobin James, Managing Director, Tempur UK
Toby Anderson, Chief Executive, McKesson
Will Kernan, Chief Executive, River Island

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