Based in Hong Kong, AS Watson are a leading retail group with more than 13,000 stores in 35 markets, and a global turnover of over £15bn.
Since entering the UK in 2000 the group has built a portfolio of more than 1800 high street shops and continues its store expansion program. In 2010, they turned to Gerald Eve for an all-encompassing rates consultancy service covering all four of the group’s UK trading companies. The aim? To make inroads into their business rates burden, the second-largest cost in their list of property overheads.
To maximise cash savings we left no stone unturned, we have engaged with all of the group’s UK offices and explored every aspect of rating taxation. We’ve audited all current and historic rates liability accounts, challenged Council Tax assessments, set up a rates payment management service and kept the client fully up to speed on Government initiatives and changes to legislation.
We also took the innovative step in educating the group’s regional and local managers in identifying and reporting events that could lead to opportunities for appeals due to material changes in circumstances (MCC), and other possible savings opportunities for temporary reliefs. More recently, we have developed a bespoke Gerald Eve App for release to local store managers so they can readily report any new MCC opportunities which we may be unaware of and to facilitate rapid rating action where appropriate.
We have also managed corporate shop re-fit periods from a rates management perspective, engaging with local billing authorities to ensure no rates liability has been paid for the correct number of days relating to refit periods. This element of rates management continues to creat substantial cumulative cash savings for A S Watson.
Seven years into the relationship, we’ve delivered well over £11m in rates rebates. AS Watson have recognised the overwhelming contribution Gerald Eve have delivered to their cost savings initiatives across the UK wide portfolio and have recently reappointed Gerald Eve to rates manage their portfolio for the 2017, becoming ever more focused on the value of receiving the best rates advice available.