Currys boss brands Living Wage hike as 'irresponsible' for retail sector

The boss of personal electronics retailer Currys has criticised the UK’s upcoming minimum wage hike, claiming that it is evidence that the government does not care about the retail sector.

The National Living Wage will increase by 9.8 per cent to £11.44 from April 2024.

While this has been welcomed by Brits struggling through an ongoing cost-of-living crisis and likely recession, the increase was significantly more than UK retailers had been expecting. Many decision makers in the sector have also been critical of what is perceived as an unfair business rates system.

Speaking after publishing the company’s first half results, Currys boss Alex Baldock was heavily critical of the move from chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement.

He said: "For the retail industry as a whole, having the big hike in the National Living Wage at the same time as an expected half a billion pound ($631 million) increase in the (business) rates bill just shows how little the government appears to understand or care about this industry.”

Baldock described the retail sector as “over-burdened” and said that it is “irresponsible” for the government to increase costs with “three million jobs at stake.”

In the company’s results, it reported an adjusted pretax loss of £16 million pounds ($20.2 million) for the six months to 28 October, down from a loss of £17 million in the same period of 2022. Revenue was down seven per cent to £4.2 billion. The company has said that it is sticking to its previous annual guidance.

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