>>’It’s our single biggest issue’

Deepak Patel is a director of Aimes, which employs 54 staff across three stores in Clacton-on-Sea in Essex. He is furious about the proposed increase. “It’s a ridiculous problem - we’ve basically got to give everyone a pay rise. You’re talking nearly £5 for people to stack shelves. As soon as it’s put up we have to put up everyone else’s wage - supervisors, assistant managers and managers - my supervisors are on about £5.15 to £5.20 - not that far off £4.85.”
Like Bains, the business has cut the fat out of its operation by “streamlining” staff and no longer taking on younger staff.
He worries that the next increase will force him to cut into the meat of the business. “We only allow 3.5% of our turnover to staffing. It’s the single biggest issue for us. We’re happy to pay more for our good members of staff. But we rely on young people at the weekend and it’s really pushing up the bill.”
He adds gloomily: “Year after year the biggest cost by far is staffing. It’s going to hit our bottom line.
“I know shops that are family run that will be hit hard by this next increase. I’ve no doubt some smaller retailers will go out of business.”