The owner of Aberdeen zero-waste store Refillosophy fears rising rates bill could leave her facing closure.
Gina Adie has branded the business rates system “archaic” and “not fit for purpose”.
It comes after days after the draft non-domestic rates valuation roll was published, which shocked several Aberdeen businesses with rises huge potential increases in their rates bills come April including Aberdeen Football Club’s Pittodrie Stadium.
Under the new proposals Ms Adie is now liable for £9,337 from April next year.
Previously Ms Adie’s store on Albyn Grove, which employs five part-time workers, came under the £15,000 small business rate relief threshold so faced no rates payment obligations.
However, under the draft assessment her proposed rateable value is now £18,750 – above the £18,000 threshold for 25% relief.
Fury and frustration
Ms Adie said: “I’m extremely disappointed with our new rateable value – in fact I’m furious about it.
“We simply hadn’t factored such a high additional cost into our business budgeting.
“What are our options: putting up our prices, laying off staff or – the worst-case scenario – closing a shop we’ve worked so hard to establish?
The rates system is archaic. It’s not fit-for-purpose due to the changing business landscape.”
“I find it shocking and extremely frustrating when we keep hearing we want local shops and the city centre to flourish, yet it seems to be increasingly difficult for this to happen.
“The rates system is archaic. It’s not fit-for-purpose due to the changing business landscape. With online shopping, we are competing in a difficult world.
“We should be encouraging smaller local firms into the city centre. Overnight we’re now facing a bill of more than £9,000.”
Question mark over future
Ms Adie opened Refillosophy, based in Albyn Grove, just over two years ago and provides plastics-free shopping, local produce, recycled products and the re-use of containers where possible.
Customers can pick their coffee beans, loose tea, bakery products and fresh fruit and vegetables and other produce from the shelves.
The “shocking” adjustment in ratable value of her premises has left Ms Adie questioning what the future may hold for her business.
She said: “Someone said I should move to somewhere like Westhill where we may pay less rates.
“I walk to work as do my staff. A move out of town would involve car travel and that goes against our ethos.
“The whole point is that we are an eco-friendly business with sustainability at our core.
“Perhaps this should be considered in a forward-thinking rates assessment – one that looks into what we are trying to do.
“I felt we were getting back on our feet after the Covid-19 pandemic but now this. I’m not sure what to do to be honest.”
The final rates bill will be dependent on any changes to the poundage rate which will be determined in the Scottish budget this month.
Ms Adie said she was considering an appeal.
The draft revaluation notices have been described as “madness” by Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce policy director Ryan Crighton.
Assuming no reliefs Aberdeen Football Club’s stadium could see its rates rise from £192,500 a year to £450,000 and Revolucion de Cuba, based in The Academy, is facing an increase of 222% with rates going from £60,000 in 2017 to £190,000 in 2023.