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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-15177: Annie Wells (Glasgow)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 8 March 2018

To ask the Scottish Government, in light of reports that the business, New Look, is planning to close stores in Glasgow and across the country, what its position is on the potential economic impact that this may have, and what action it is taking to support high street retailers.

Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 21 March 2018

I am concerned to learn that the fashion retailer New Look has announced plans for a Company Voluntary Arrangement that could result in the closure of eight stores across Scotland. We stand ready to offer support for any employees facing redundancy through our Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) initiative.

The Scottish Government recognises that the retail sector in Scotland is transforming in response to, among other things, significant changes to shopping habits and through new technology. There is no doubt that e-commerce is now having a significant impact.

We are aware that UK Government austerity measures and Brexit are affecting consumer confidence and spending. Despite this, we are doing everything within our powers to support our economy, including our retailers. For example, this year we will enhance measures to support both new development and re-use of vacant property in town centres and elsewhere as part of total rates relief of around £720 million, including the Small Business Bonus Scheme which will lift over 100,000 properties out of rates altogether. In addition, we are working with the Scottish Retail Consortium to develop a retail strategy which will set out a clear road map for future tax and regulatory changes.

Scotland’s Town Centre First Principle, agreed with COSLA, together with the range of measures in the Town Centre Action Plan, set the conditions and underpin activity designed to tackle key issues such as diversifying the town centre offer to attract a range of businesses and services to locate there to build footfall for retail and other business areas.

We will continue to use all levers at our disposal to ensure that Scotland remains an attractive place for retailers to do business.