Established and headquartered in Bradford, Morrisons is the UK’s fourth largest supermarket chain, with more than 500 stores and over 100 Morrisons M local stores (Q4 2015).
They came to Gerald Eve in 2012, asking that we take over their business rate appeals work from GL Hearn on their large-format portfolios in three regions – eastern England, Wales and western England, and London and the south-east – and their convenience store division on a nationwide basis. We are currently responsible for around half the entire Morrisons estate, with a total current rateable value in the order of £300m.
When the store at Marine Point in Brighton was flooded on 5 December 2013, Morrisons was granted Flood Relief – a three-month ‘holiday’ from paying business rates introduced to help affected businesses get through the floods of 2013/14. What was unclear was whether Flood Relief was being classed as EU State Aid, which would prevent Morrisons from also receiving retail relief for its smaller stores (RV up to £50,000).
The Department for Communities and Local Government were not able to give a definitive answer to the question. We sought counsel’s opinion on Morrisons’ behalf. It was confirmed that Flood Relief was not classed as EU State Aid; Morrisons would be eligible to apply for retail relief of up to €200,000. We prepared and submitted the relevant application’s for Morrisons, and have secured the majority of this entitlement.