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Pureplays speak out to oppose online sales tax

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Ocado, N Brown and Shop Direct are among a group of pureplay retailers reported to have written to the Chancellor voicing their opposition to the idea of an online sales tax.

In a letter printed in full in The Telegraph, John Roberts chief executive of Appliances Online, Julian Granville, chief executive of Boden, Angela Spindler, chief executive of N Brown, Holly Tucker, chief executive of, Tim Steiner, chief executive of Ocado and Alex Baldock, chief executive of Shop Direct, speak out against the idea of an online sales tax.

They say such a tax would hit consumers, suppliers and jobs and would also “kill entrepreneurial spirit by making it harder for smaller online retailers to get started.”

The tax has been mooted as a way to level the playing field in the light of business rates that retailers pay on their property and which affect centrally-located high street retailers more heavily than pureplays which tend to have out of town property. Multinational etailer Amazon has been heavily criticised following reports that it has not been paying corporation tax in the UK despite turning over more than £7bn here.

But today’s letter from the six pureplays says: “Physical retailers rightly continue to call for lower business rates on their stores. But to simply shift the burden to online retailers by imposing a new tax is a nonsense that will be detrimental to consumers, jobs and investment.”

The letter argues that suppliers to the online industry will also be hit by any move to introduce an online sales tax.

“Online,” it says, “is a rare and precious success story for the UK and one that we should take pride in.

“We support our high street counterparts in their call for lower business rates, but hitting online businesses by replacing lost revenue with this type of tax will hamper growth, slow the economy, impact jobs and reduce investment whilst not achieving a significant uplift for the Treasury.”

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