M&S CEO urges government to create a ‘balanced budget’ for retail businesses

M&S CEO Stuart Machin has called on the government to create a “balanced budget” for retail businesses “that helps put UK economy back into the race.”

He has urged chancellor Jeremy Hunt to take “desicive” action in the Spring Budget tomorrow (15 March).

Machin said that while M&S “absolutely supports the government’s focus on balancing the books, reasserting its economic competency, and giving the markets, businesses and consumers, the stability they want and need,” he added that “there is still work to do.”

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Looking ahead, he said the UK government and EU should work together to ensure trade continues “with an approach that takes into account the safety and high standards in the UK and EU food.”

Machin explained that decisive, practical action is required in three key areas – skills, net zero and regulation, with skills helped through a re-scope of the Apprenticeship Levy into a broader skills fund, claiming the current approach “is not fit for purpose.”

The supermarket has also asked for “no further legislative burden acting as a drag on business from unnecessary taxes or regulation.”

He said that in his 30-year career, he has “never known the burden on retail sit as heavy as it does today,” adding that 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.”

In 2022 and across the coming year, the retail sector has been hit with new legislation including HFSS location restrictions and Deposit Return Schemes, which Machin said when all factors are put together, it creates “an unsustainable ask.”



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