Selfridges FD Peter Williams this week called on the government to draw up plans to support small high street retailers who would ‘bear the brunt’ of conversion to the euro with costs of up to #3.5bn.
Establishing the single currency in the UK would cost smaller retail operations on average two and a half times more than the big chains whose economy of scale would absorb costs, Williams claimed.
An FD at the leading retail chain since 1990, Williams spoke out after he told a commons inquiry last week that changeover from sterling to euro would increase costs for small retailers by as much as five per cent of their turnover.
‘Retailers rather than banks will bear the brunt of changeover costs’, said Williams. ‘We need a three year gap between a mandate to join and entry for the government to draw up an effective changeover strategy.’
The cross-party trade and industry committee heard evidence from the British Retail Consortium, which has 280,000 members, following the publication of two national currency changeover studies.
‘The problem with the changeover plan is that it raises lots of questions, but doesn’t actually answer any of them,’ said Williams.
Business groups giving evidence, which also included the British Bankers’ Association, the Automatic Vending Association and the British Amusement and Catering Trade Associations (BACTA), called for greater certainty over the timing and likelihood of British entry to the single market.
‘We need a conversion e-day in a low activity month such as February and the new euro currency has to be issued well in advance to customers and retailers,’ Williams said.
The extent of the government’s information campaign could also vary the cost, he claimed.
The Treasury’s refusal earlier this year to estimate the cost of transition into changeover plans sparked the committee inquiry into the euro.
Euro analysis, page 8
Leader, page 18
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