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Tesco, Morrisons and Waterstones are among companies that have urged chancellor Rishi Sunak to “level the playing field” between bricks-and-mortar stores and online retailers, as the coronavirus pandemic accelerates the already growing popularity of internet shopping (The Financial Times £). Tesco boss Ken Murphy has also joined bosses at Morrisons, Asda and Waterstones to ask Chancellor Rishi Sunak for a “level playing field” when it comes to tax (The BBC). The UK’s leading retailers have called on Rishi Sunak to “back British shops” by permanently slashing business rates, as the Treasury considers ways to support town centres after the pandemic (The Telegraph). The leaders of household names including Tesco, B&Q and Waterstones have warned the chancellor that the business rates burden on shops is putting thousands of high street jobs at risk, and called for online retailers to pay their “fair share” of tax (The Guardian).

The UK Treasury is exploring options for an online sales tax in response to an explosion in internet shopping, as the Covid-19 pandemic accelerates the closure of high street shops across the country (The Guardian). Amazon and other major internet retailers could be hit with a new online sales tax to help the UK pay its debts after extensive borrowing during the pandemic (Sky News).

Supermarket chiefs ‘relaxed’ about Covid-19 windfall tax after it emerged that Rishi Sunak is considering a levy on retailers that have made what the Treasury considers to be “excess profits” during the pandemic. (The Times £)

Amazon has been criticised for paying less in business rates than British bricks and mortar retailers. (The BBC)

The FT has a long read on ‘The Amazon machine’, looking at Jeff Bezos’s revolution — and complicated legacy. Arguably his generation’s most important businessman stands down just as his hardball tactics are inviting political scrutiny. (The Financial Times £)

The BBC also looks at the rise of “the unstoppable rise of the internet giant”. It writes: “What started as a small online book retailer has become a global phenomenon… And that has brought Amazon much criticism, ranging from accusations it has contributed to the decline of the High Street to complaints about working conditions in its vast warehouses.” (The BBC)

Amazon is facing unprecedented strain due to a shortage of warehouse workers. Short-term pressures from the surge in consumer demand during lockdowns, and elevated staff absences amid the pandemic, have exacerbated the longer-term issue of a dwindling migrant workforce for all online retailers. (The Times £)

British firms are warning of an escalation in Brexit red tape as the government prepares to introduce a long list of new controls on imports from the European Union in April and July. (The Guardian)

The volume of exports going through British ports to the EU fell by a staggering 68% last month compared with January last year, mostly as a result of problems caused by Brexit (The Guardian). The volume of exports going through British ports to the EU fell by 68% last month compared with January last year, according to research (Sky News).

Carlsberg is expecting a surge in demand this summer similar to a boom seen a century ago as more people are vaccinated and lockdowns lift, according to the Danish brewer’s chief executive. (The Financial Times £)

Tesco has discontinued some of its own-brand products after an investigation found that they are the exact same items as cheaper alternatives. The supermarket will either reformulate or discontinue its Halloumi and Light Cheddar cheese products, as there was no meaningful difference. (The Telegraph)

Investors toasted pub and restaurant stocks as the industry gears up for a flurry of takeovers. Former Greene King boss Rooney Anand revealed he has received backing from one of the world’s biggest investment management firms, Oaktree, as part of a £500m swoop on the beleaguered UK sector. (The Daily Mail)

Restaurateurs and retailers are speeding towards a cliff-edge in the spring if landlords are once again allowed to evict tenants over unpaid rent, struggling firms warned this weekend. They also face the end of business rates relief. (The Times £)

Upper Crust and Ritazza cafe owner SSP has ramped up its Government borrowing by £175million to cope with tough travel restrictions. (The Daily Mail)

Luckin Coffee has filed for bankruptcy protection in the US, less than a year after the China-based coffee chain said hundreds of millions of dollars of sales had been fabricated. (The Financial Times £)

Leading restaurants were struggling with rapidly accelerating losses even before the first lockdown in March last year, research suggests. (The Times £)

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