‘Positive action’ needed for retail and hospitality

Businesses in retail and hospitality risk being left behind by the Government's Industrial Strategy, according to a report by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee.

The committee said that while the Industrial Strategy has focused on support for high-tech sectors, it has not done enough for sectors like retail and hospitality.

It argued that structural issues have been the main cause of difficulties in these sectors, with net closures cumulatively totalling more than 3,000 in the past two years.

In the last year alone, the likes of House of Fraser and HMV have entered administration, Jamie's Italian and Prezzo have closed branches to cut costs, while pubs called last orders for the final time at a rate of 18 a week.

The report called for the Government to publish an action plan on how it will work with retail and hospitality sectors to boost their productivity.

Rachel Reeves, chair of the BEIS committee, said the Government should be "much clearer about the criteria for sector deals and engage more actively and decisively to make these happen".

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:

"We are in the midst of an unprecedented transformation, yet many businesses are being held back by public policy costs, not least the spiralling business rates, which will rise once again in April.

"We welcome the call by the committee for Government to take positive action to support the reinvention of the [retail] industry."

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