Struggling store may be closed

A STRUGGLING not-for-profit fashion store may have to shut down because it does not qualify for business tax relief. The Fashion Enter store in Vicarage Field shopping centre, Barking, may be forced to pay the full rate despite being a social enterprise w

A STRUGGLING not-for-profit fashion store may have to shut down because it does not qualify for business tax relief.

The Fashion Enter store in Vicarage Field shopping centre, Barking, may be forced to pay the full rate despite being a social enterprise which provides training and advice for people who want to start up business in the fashion industry.

The council said it had refused an application for discretionary rate relief, which would have reduced the amount to be paid by 80 percent.

Company director, Jenny Holloway, said: "There's absolutely no way that we can afford to pay the full rate. We would have to close the shop."


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Having worked with the London Development Agency in the past, the company then opened shop in Barking in August 2007 where it sells the latest designs from the freshest talent in the business.

Ms Holloway said: "We work with people who are not in employment or education.

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"What I don't understand is that we have just been given money by the council to buy new equipment. We teach people to sew.

A council spokesperson said: "In this case it was refused because the accounts supplied with the application stated that the shop was making a profit and therefore did not fall under the non profit-making clause.

"We also took into account that the shop does not offer a service that the council would otherwise have to provide."

Ms Holloway insists that her company is benefiting the community.

Fashion Enter and its parent company, Fashion Capital, were behind last year's model contest The Face of Barking and Dagenham, which saw Barking girl Yasmeen Robinson win a modelling contract.

She said: "I think in total at least 200 people were involved with us.

"We're also speaking to the Adult College of Barking and Dagenham so that fashion students can come along to our boutique."

The council has suggested the shop apply for charity status in which case it would qualify for an 80 per cent mandatory business rate relief.

Ms Holloway said: "It's a very long process to become a charity."

Talks between the store and the council are continuing.

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