Brands crank up the pressure on UK government to reverse tax free decision

By Andrew Pentol |

Prestigious luxury brands such as Tiffany & Co have sent an open letter to the UK Chancellor highlighting the consequences of abolishing tax free shopping for international visitors.

Eleven of the world’s most prestigious luxury brands (Gucci, L’Oreal Luxe UK, Tiffany & Co, Lalique, Salvatore Ferragamo, Samsonite and Tumi, Missoni, Kering, Hugo Boss, De Beers and Breitling) have sent an open letter to UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak, warning that the decision to abolish tax free shopping for international visitors will cost the UK millions of pounds.

Within the letter, which was seen by TRBusiness, the brands suggest that removing the VAT refund for tourists will give the UK “the least competitive duty free regime in Europe” and result in visitors “opting to spend their money elsewhere in Europe.”

Casting doubt over their future commitment to the UK, the brands state that the current regime helped Britain become a world-leading shopping destination and that they have “invested in the UK accordingly.” The brands also suggest that the changes will “put this status at risk”.

The brands concluded: “This cannot be good for our business in the UK, or for the Treasury and comes at the worst possible time to disincentivise visitors from coming to the UK.”

This letter is the latest in a series of interventions from businesses and institutions concerned by the Treasury measure.


Last month, 16 leading UK brands, including Ted Baker, Paul Smith and Fortnum and Mason, warned the Chancellor that abolishing the VAT rebate would deliver a “hammer blow” to the industry.

An open letter signed by 11 luxury brands was sent to UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak

Scottish business leaders, and separately industry leaders from the UK’s tourism, arts, hospitality and culture sectors, have publicly voiced their concern over the knock-on impact this measure will have on their industries.

All parties believe the Government’s proposal to end tax-free shopping will have a detrimental impact on jobs, industries and livelihoods throughout the UK, despite the Prime Minister’s commitment to a levelling-up agenda.

TRBusiness has also launched its own campaign to encourage the government to reverse its decision to axe airside tax free sales at UK airports on all goods aside from alcohol and tobacco.

A petition lodged and accepted on the UK Government and Parliament website urges ministers to retain the VAT Retail Export scheme, after it was announced that tax free shopping for international visitors in UK shops would end in January 2021.

As of 11:04am UK time on 11 November, 6,229 British citizens and UK residents had signed the petition. At 10,000 signatures, the petition will receive a response from the government and at 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in parliament.

More to follow…

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