Steve Jewell, the managing director of Romerils, said that the government was missing out on ‘significant revenue’ by only applying the 20 per cent levy to retailers making profits of at least £500,000 and who do at least 20 per cent of their business directly with consumers.
Although he said that the rate was too high and called for a 15 per cent levy instead, he believes that policy-makers have missed a trick.
Mr Jewell said: ‘Why only retail? Romerils could easily qualify as non-retail with our wholesale business, as way over 60% of our turnover is to Jersey contractors and other businesses.’
He points out that two of his largest trade competitors are multi-national firms who currently don’t pay the retail tax.
‘Why not classify builders merchants and other wholesale as retail? We applauded the government when the new tax structure was finally discussed and implemented as we fully buy into the concept of capturing a tax contribution from non-local retailers that ceased paying contributions when zero-ten came in many years ago.’
Mr Jewell stated his case in a four-page letter to the States’ Economic Affairs Scrutiny Panel which is currently investigating challenges faced by the sector.
Elsewhere in his correspondence, he echoes the message from a number of businesses in recent months that recruitment of staff remains a key difficulty.
He said: ‘Unfortunately, the retail sector is one of the sectors that suffers the most during this challenging time, as other industries will entice our home-grown talent with higher salaries or benefits that we simply cannot match. Retail is seen as a stop-gap for school leavers or graduates who often do not regard the sector as a viable or prestigious career choice.’
The panel is seeking evidence from retailers and shoppers on a range of retail-related issues, including the question of what impact the new retail tax is having on the sector.
It came into force at the start of this year and followed months of lobbying by larger retailers, who argued they weren’t properly consulted before its introduction. Earlier this year, an attempt by one former politician to rescind the tax resulted in a tied vote in the States, meaning the tax remains on the statute books.