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The Morris Fyfe Agency launches government petition for agents and distributors

Tom Bottomley
04 June 2020

Daniel Morris, co-founder of The Morris Fyfe Agency, has launched an online petition calling for business rates grants and holidays for retail companies to be extended to include wholesale agents and distributors.

Morris, who co-founded The Morris Fyfe Agency in January 2017 on Brick Lane, east London, with Emily Fyfe, representing UK wholesale sales for brands including U.S. Polo Assn, Valentino by Mario Valentino and Devotion, has so far got Double H Agency, Love Brands, Jonny Drama, Just A Group, FOF Fashion Marketing and Brand Machine Group and Manchester-based agency Red Alert to sign up to extend the campaign to cover all affected sectors.

As it stands, sales agents and distributors - who are typically self-employed or directors drawing dividends - do not qualify for the sort of help from central government or local government that is available to the many retailers they supply.

The petition, found at states: “The business rates relief for retail companies should be extended to include wholesale agents and distributors whose businesses have been equally affected by the shutdown. Our business, like many others, is 100% reliant on retail. Since the outbreak, our customers have been mostly furloughed and no one is visiting wholesale showrooms. Our office is obviously closed and all of our customers have closed their doors.”

Fashion industry veteran Morris, whose past roles include being managing director of Paul’s Boutique, Boxfresh, Pentland Brands and Firetrap, adds: “In short, we fully support the government business rates 12-month holiday for retailers and only ask to be treated the same, as we are part of the same supply chain and therefore paying the price in terms of reduced income from retailer cancellations, discounts and delays.

“We believe that the government doesn’t really understand and recognise the role we play in getting goods to market and how we are recompensed – at least that is the only justification we can think of, for not being included in the COVID-19 government support.

“My petition is saying that we are directly related to retail and should be considered in the same bracket. With buyers furloughed, offices shut and those people working doing so from home, those of us with retail showrooms are experiencing a similar impact to retailers. In fact, you could claim it’s worse, as we don’t sell through websites. We can’t just walk away from our showrooms, so they are staying full of samples with no visitors.

“We’re not eligible for the 12-month rates holiday, or the £25,000 grant for ratepayers in the retail, hospitality, tourism and leisure sectors, because we’re not classed as retail, and I can’t get the small business grant funding of £10,000 because my rateable value is above £15,000. The only logical next step has been to launch the government petition, and our target is 10,000 signatures.”

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