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Winch & Blatch in Sudbury criticises 'unfair' business rates system for harming high street viability

Sudbury department store Winch & Blatch is planning celebrations to mark its 75th anniversary this year in December.

Director Judith Blatch said plans were in hand to mark the occasion when the independent, family-run business was incorporated on December 12, 1945.

The store, which employs around 50 people, is run by Mrs Blatch and her husband, Richard.

ETC my style - Judith Blatch. (28349221)
ETC my style - Judith Blatch. (28349221)

“Some good news is that we celebrate 75 glorious years in December this year,” she said.

“That’s when my father-in-law took over the business. As the anniversary is in December, we are just starting to look at ways we can celebrate. We may even look to see if we can find anyone who worked here 75 years ago.”

The business started as traditional draper’s and silk mercer’s shops in 1850, before adopting the current business name in 1945.

Last year, the retailer announced it was selling off two of its sites due to reduced sales and footfall but, so far, has not had any firm interest.

Mrs Blatch said an unfair system of business rates imposed on retailers were having a detrimental effect on high street viability, and she believed the Government needed to address inequality.

“Business rates are not fair and are particularly unfair for larger stores,” she said. “A company such as very.co.uk pays £5 per square foot in business rates – we pay 70 times that.

“Our business rates are £350 per square foot, Sainsbury’s is £195 and Amazon in Hemel Hempstead is £65.50. We also have to pay extra business rates for our air conditioning and parking.”

Mrs Blatch said she had taken her concerns to MP James Cartlidge, but a planned meeting last year with a Treasury official had to be postponed due to Brexit.

She said she believed the regeneration of Gainsborough’s House would put Sudbury on the map and help the town’s economic fortunes.

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