Spring Budget: M&S boss calls for “decisive” action

14th March 2023 | Jack Oliver

Marks & Spencer chief executive Stuart Machin has called on the Government to commit to “decisive, practical action” ahead of Wednesday’s Spring Budget.

Like many retailers, business rates remain high on the agenda for the M&S boss, who has called for the Government to reduce the multiplier to its 1990 level of 35 pence to the pound for all ratepayers. However, he emphasised that the country cannot cut its way to growth.

Machin has called on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to focus on three areas: workers’ skills, net zero, and regulation, if the UK is going to build a “growing, enterprising economy”.

He said that UK policy surrounding skills is not fit for purpose, stating that the Government needs to focus on lifelong learning and the required skills needed to build a modern economy, and described a “real issue” surrounding training retail workers in digital skills.

In regards to net zero, Machin said that current investment in infrastructure is insufficient to achieve targets and that the Government must focus on rolling out electric vehicle charging points and develop on-shore recycling for key materials.

He added that the capital allowances super deduction, which is due to end later this month, should be extended for spending on energy efficient investments: “By making investment in energy efficiency more attractive than other areas this will focus business minds on one of the biggest challenges of the day”, he said.

Finally, he called on the Government for no further legislation which would act as a burden on businesses through taxes and regulation, stating: “In my 30-year career, I have never known the burden on retail sit as heavy as it does today. There needs to be a strategic overview of legislation and its implementation; with a view to pausing new regulations that will add cost to an under pressure sector.”

The M&S boss joins voices such as Colliers’ head of business rates as well as the New West End Company and Knightsbridge Partnership in calling for Wednesday’s budget to alleviate pressure on retailers.


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