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Large firms could pay levy to revive the high street

The high street could be "rescued" by forcing larger retailers to pay a one-off levy that could raise in the region of £550 million, thegrocer.co.uk reports.

Veteran retail boss Bill Grimsey has called on some of the largest retail and leisure chains to pay a one-off levy during 2014.

This, he said, would help create a much more habitable high street environment for start-ups and new ventures.

The scheme would see national chains which have a turnover in excess of £10 million to invest 0.25 per cent of their total UK sales over the course of next year. Forecasts put this amount at around £550 million, which is significantly more than the £18 million currently being spent by the government, which includes the much-publicised 'Portas Pilot' schemes, which saw 24 towns awarded £100,000 each.

To obtain his results, Grimsey - who once owned the Focus business of DIY stores and Iceland supermarkets - sent out hundreds of Freedom of Information requests to UK businesses and official bodies.This approach, he claimed, made his findings significantly more qualitative than Portas's scheme, which was "little more than a PR stunt".

Commenting, Grimsey told theguardian.com: "I honestly think the time has come for the big chains to put something back and help re-design the high street.

"What we've seen in a lot of secondary town centre locations is that as the chains move out to more lucrative out-of-town sites they're hollowing out the high street."

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