Westminster Business Forum

The UK retail sector and the future of the high street - costs and taxation, investment and planning, and policy priorities for the new parliament

Morning, Thursday, 27th February 2020

Central London



This seminar will bring stakeholders together to discuss the future of UK retail and the high street.


As a new parliament begins its work, we expect discussion on options for reform in the areas such as business rates, the apprenticeship levy, and legislation to protect shop workers - as called for in the recent British Retail Consortium report, A Vision for the UK Retail Industry - and the potential practicalities and impact on the sector.


Overall, areas for discussion include:


  • Options for policy on costs and future funding, and for stakeholder collaboration;
  • The relationships between landlords and retailers, and trends in rent negotiation;
  • Innovative approaches to high street regeneration; and
  • The high street/online playing field.

Speakers


  • Kelly Tolhurst, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility;
  • Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium; and
  • Steve Murrells, Chief Executive Officer, The Co-operative Group.

Further speakers include: Emily Berwyn, Meanwhile Foundation; Elizabeth Faulkner, Altrincham Unlimited; Dr Cathy Hart, Loughborough University; Mark Pilkington, formerly of Gossard; Simon Quin, High Street Task Force; Mark Robinson, Revo and Michael Weedon, Federation of Small Businesses.


The agenda


  • Key challenges for retailers: responding to rising costs, technology and changing shopping habits;
  • Collaboration needed between councils, businesses and communities to develop places and positioning high streets as community hubs;
  • Attracting business to the high street - the open door pilot, investment in historic buildings, and key issues for landlords;
  • Where next for retail: improving productivity, competitiveness and the impact of Brexit;
  • High street and online retail at a time of rising costs and political uncertainty - options for digital services taxation and business rates relief; and
  • Future policy for supporting local shops and high streets.


Keynote Speakers

Steve Murrells

Chief Executive Officer, The Co-Operative Group and Member, Consumer, Retail and Life Sciences Business Council

Kelly Tolhurst

Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility

Keynote Speakers

Steve Murrells

Chief Executive Officer, The Co-Operative Group and Member, Consumer, Retail and Life Sciences Business Council

Kelly Tolhurst

Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility

Speakers

Simon Quin

Executive Director, High Street Task Force and Co-Chair, Institute of Place Management

Helen Dickinson

Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium

Dr Cathy Hart

Senior Lecturer, Retailing and Operations Management, School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University

Mark Robinson

Property Director and Co-Founder, Ellandi and President, Revo

Emily Berwyn

Chief Executive, Meanwhile Foundation

Mark Pilkington

MarkPilkington.net and former Chief Executive Officer, Gossard

Michael Weedon

Chair, Retail & High Street Policy Unit, Federation of Small Businesses

Elizabeth Faulkner

Business Development Manager, BID Team, Altrincham Unlimited

Melanie Williams

Partner, DWF Law