SHOE Zone could be forced to close 100 stores if business rates do not change, the high street chain has revealed. 

The retailer, which has one store in Winsford Cross Shopping Centre, will close a fifth of its UK stores unless the property tax is overhauled.

Speaking to the BBC, boss Anthony Smith said: "If people want vibrant high streets, they really do need retailers like us to keep our shops open in smaller towns."

Shoe Zone also had a store on Witton Street in Northwich until it was clsoed down in September 2018. 

Retailers have called on HM Treasury to reform business rates in the budget scheduled for next month.

Business rates are similar to council tax for business properties. They are paid by businesses, or landlords if a property is empty.

Mr Smith said that although rents had fallen across its 500 shops, the amount it pays in business rates had increased from 26 per cent to 54 per cent over the past 10 years.

He said: "There is a lot of talk about the regeneration and repurposing of town centres, which we are all up for. But whatever goes into those shops, the rateable value is still simply too high."

In 2019, the firm's former chief executive Nick Davis stepped down, warning that profits would be lower than expected.

Anthony Smith was previously chief executive of the brand for 20 years, and last year took the role on again.

He told the BBC that the firm is closing about 20 stores each year, but pointed out that sales online and in out-of-town areas were "going well".