Leading retailer urges caution over sales tax

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Philip Newton, chief executive of Merchant Retail – the parent company of department store A de Gruchy – says he is concerned that a sales tax will make the Island less attractive to visitors.

erchant Retail – which includes almost 100 outlets in The Perfume Shop chain and several UK department stores – today reported buoyant interim results for the six months to the end of September.

Sales grew by eight per cent overall, to £69.

m, and profit before tax increased by 25%, to £3.


But these advances reflect another outstanding performance for The Perfume Shop, whereas the department stores have ‘found the going much tougher’.

Sales at De Gruchy were down two per cent – marginally better than the UK stores – and profitability reduced by 28%.

However, the newly-refurbished cosmetics hall has seen a 44% increase in sales.

r Newton is upbeat about the future of the business in Jersey.

He said: ‘This remains a quality and high contributing business which has been uninvested in.

We have now repaid the capital debt and are ready to invest.

The second phase of the refurbishment programme is due to start on 16 January, which will involve moving the main staircase to the arcade area and creating a new space for accessories, young fashion and homeware.

The work will take 16 weeks and cost £1.


r Newton said there would be no further redundancies, following the six job cuts announced in July.

‘We have restructured the business with the cost base now appropriate to the sales base.

Nevertheless, Jersey has some difficult times ahead, he believes, with the danger of a sales tax or VAT.

‘One of the potential attractions for tourists and visitors is the shopping advantage.

If all you are going to do is make Jersey the same as the UK, how are you going to start encouraging tourists back?’The operational side is not the important thing.

I’m more worried about Jersey as an overall attraction as a shopping centre,’ he said.

sked what he was expecting from the Christmas sales, Mr Newton said that good retailers would always prosper.

Christmas has been happening for over 2,000 years and every year customers seem to find the wherewithal to enjoy themselves.

All we can do is make sure we have the right offering for our customers, as we have done with The Perfume Shop.

The results are there to be seen.

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