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UK retail must stay open when third lockdown ends - Ocado chairman

·1-min read
The outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's retail sector must stay open when it emerges from the latest coronavirus lockdown, sector veteran Stuart Rose said on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to set the path out of a third lockdown which has closed all non-essential shops on Feb. 22.

"The short term need is for us to have some clarity. We need to have confidence that when we re-open again we will stay open," Rose, the current chairman of Ocado and a former boss of Marks & Spencer, told BBC radio.

"Businesses are not designed to stop and start, you just cannot do that."

Rose also called on finance minister Rishi Sunak to resist tax rises in his March 3 budget statement.

"The second thing the government needs to do is make sure we don't do anything stupid," he said.

"Let's not change tax rates, let's not do anything with VAT, let's make sure that we actually give people the confidence of knowing that nothing will change in the short term."

Rose said the government should also maintain its furlough support scheme for workers and extend a business rates holiday for retail.

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Sarah Young and William James)