Stuart Machin

The boss of Marks & Spencer has branded the inflation-linked increase to commercial property taxes as “economically illiterate” in a last-ditch effort to persuade the government to make a U-turn before this week’s budget (The Times £). Machin said the government needed to do more to understand the importance of the retail sector as existing policy “makes being an employer of people and running stores really hard”.

Retailers have called on the government to “kick-start a spending revival” on the high street as Britons grapple with cost of living pressures (The Times £).

Business leaders are making a last-ditch bid to persuade Jeremy Hunt to scrap the tourist tax in his Budget this week, with the boss of Marks & Spencer leading the calls (The Mail).

A business editorial by Alex Brummer in the Mail also calls for the tourist tax to be scrapped to boost retail and hospitality. “Full credit should go to Stuart Machin, one of the comeback squad at M&S, for a robust intervention accusing the government of ‘economic illiteracy’,” he writes.

Jeremy Hunt is preparing to freeze fuel duty for another year in a move that will be welcomed by motorists but cost the Treasury about £5bn (The Times £).

Caffè Nero has swung back into the black after raising the price of a flat white by 15%, with the chain’s parent company posting a £7m pre-tax profit for the year to May 2023 compared with a £16m loss a year earlier, as sales soared by £100m to £450m (Telegraph £).

The billionaire Issa brothers have slashed investment at their petrol station empire as they battle to pay down debts (Telegraph £).

Profits at the Issa brothers’ petrol station and convenience store empire dropped last year, in part because of a steadying of the global oil price (The Times £).

Sachets of ketchup, hotel mini-toiletries and plastic wrapping around fruit and vegetables all face being banned in the EU from 2030 despite a protracted lobbying campaign from European industry (TFinancial Times £).

UK retail sales and consumer spending rose at the slowest pace since 2022 in February, according to industry data published on Tuesday, spurred by bad weather and falling inflation (Financial Times £).

Food sales increased 6% but that was slower than the 6.3% reported last month as inflation eased (The Guardian).

Criminal gangs are stealing from lorries so shoppers can buy black market ­groceries on the cheap (The Times £).

Generation Z drives a resurgence in cigar and pipe smoking (The Times £). Resurgence in non-cigarette tobacco smoking, including shisha and cigars, has risen five-fold in the last decade, with use highest in those aged 18-24.

Brazilian beef group JBS is facing mounting opposition to its planned US share listing from politicians and campaigners, with New York officials now accusing it of “greenwashing” (Financial Times £).

China has unveiled regulations that aim to more tightly control the world’s largest pig population, after a recent growth in herd numbers weighed heavily on pork prices (Financial Times £).