Sainsbury’s boss on tax, High Street and ecommerce

We don’t know what they will propose, but we do know that the British Retail Consortium are canvassing their members about saving the High Street and, it would seem, how to correct a perceived imbalance between the tax that High Street stores pay and that paid by internet retailers.

Of course, we don’t agree that online retailers aren’t paying their fair share: ecommerce businesses keep premises and employ staff as required just like a shop. But that’s not the view of Sainbury’s chief executive Justin King.

Just remember, King will be one of the voices at the BRC shaping the policy they come up with. It’s interesting that he calls bricks and mortar shops “real” with particular emphasis.

Here’s a transcript of the salient comments:

“Tax isn’t a level-playing field. There has been much discussion about the challenges our high streets are facing and we’re part of that conversation because we’re in most of the high streets. Around 200 of our supermarkets are in high street locations and almost all of our 550 convenience stores are in high streets.

And clearly real stores in real high streets bear the lion’s share of the tax burden in our country today. They pay rates. They employee people at a local level and, of course, that’s a good thing for local economies.

And businesses that only operate in the internet world don’t do that. There is a a big debate to be had, at a national level, about leveling the playing field between bricks and mortar high street type retailers and those that only operate on the internet.”