Posted: Tue 4th Dec 2018
"The internet is killing the High Street" and retailers that make more than 20% of sales online should be hit with a new 20% tax, the boss of Sports Direct has said.
Giving evidence to MPs as part of an investigation into the future of retail, Mike Ashley, who bought House of Fraser after it went into administration, claimed the move would revive ailing high streets by encouraging more businesses to open physical stores to avoid the charge.
"I want to make it crystal clear," he said, "the mainstream High Street as we think about it today - not the Oxford Streets and the Westfields - are already dead. They can't survive.
"The High Street won't make 2030, it won't get there, unless you do something really radical and grab the bulls by the horns."
The entrepreneur admitted that his own business, Sports Direct, would be forced to pay a new online tax.
Ashley, who has accused "greedy landlords" of forcing the closure of some House of Fraser stores, also called on local councils and landlords to help.
Among his other suggestions were free business rates for five years, a 50% reduction in base rent rates and free car parking.
In a combative exchange with MPs, Ashley painted a grim picture saying "the vast majority of the High Street has already died".
What do you think? Is an online tax the solution to revive British High Streets? What would that mean for small retailers who only sell online? How do you think businesses rates should be tackled? Post your comments below.