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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Carlisle's business rates prevent us opening permanent shop, says baker

Lake District baker Bryson’s, which recently acquired Appleby Bakery, has opened a pop-up shop in Carlisle in the run-up to Christmas.

Bryson
Susan Sowerby in the Taste Christmas pop-up shop

But it says punitive business rates are the main obstacle to a permanent retail presence in the city.

Appleby Bakery has had a Christmas pop-up shop in Carlisle for the last five years.

This year, following its acquisition by Bryson’s, the pop-up is trading as Taste Christmas from the former T-Mobile premises in Scotch Street, part of The Lanes.

The shop sells products from Appleby Bakery and Bryson’s, and from other local producers such as Pennine Honey, Hawkshead Relish, Glendale Ginger, Penrith Fudge and Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding.

Christmas hampers are a speciality.

Jackie Kirkpatrick, a co-founder of Appleby Bakery and now a sales and marketing consultant for Bryson’s, said: “This is the sixth year we’ve been in The Lanes and Bryson’s wanted to carry on the tradition.

“We get a lot of repeat business.”

The shop employs four part-time staff.

Mrs Kirkpatrick added: “We have considered a permanent shop in Carlisle.

“We’d like to do it but we’re nervous.

“Business rates are the main problem. The business rates [on the pop-up shop] are £330 a week. Rents are negotiable but business rates are not.”

Her comments echo the views of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce.

Its chief executive, Rob Johnston, is calling on George Osborne to announce a two-year freeze of business rates when the Chancellor delivers his Autumn Statement tomorrow. He also wants a review of the whole system with a view to replacing it in the next Parliament.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), meanwhile, reports 2.3 per cent growth in retail sales in November compared with the same month last year.

Rapidly growing online sales were the main driver. Online sales jumped 16 per cent year on year.

The BRC says that one-in-five non-food items are now bought on the web.

Fashion performed best as colder weather at the end of the month triggered spending on winter clothes. Homewares also produced a strong showing.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at survey partner KPMG, said: “It remains tough out there on the high street, with sales slow but growth steady.

“Shoppers are playing a waiting game and delaying purchases for as long as possible in the hope of securing a discount. Quite who will crack first in this war of nerves remains to be seen.”

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