A real five-star retailer review

Most of the calls I get on the helpline are for assistance in sorting supplier problems, moans about red tape, dust-ups with cowboys, wrangles with ’solutions providers’, dodgy equipment and so on.

So it is a real pleasure when I hear about something that has gone so right that the retailer wants to pass on a recommendation.

Stephen Vaughan, a Londis retailer who runs Esso Handbridge Services in Chester, has given a rave review to Wilmslow Tax Solutions. "These guys came in with a sort of no-win, no-fee deal, so I had nothing to lose. I bought this place in 1996 and over the years had spent money on chillers, refits and rebuilds. We’re all keen to keep up with the times. And Wilmslow went right back through the paperwork and they found £66,000-worth of building work and equipment which qualified as capital allowances and saved me £13,000 in corporation tax. So I’ve saved tax with allowances I wouldn’t have known about with no effort on my part."

Stephen reckons that there are many forecourt traders in the same boat as him those who have spent out on plant and machinery but don’t realise they qualify for capital allowance claims.

He says his accountants were a little sceptical at first. "And my accountants are very, very good but it turned out to be a great reality check for them."

Gary Addison, partner at Wilmslow Tax, explained that the company works in conjunction with accountants but specialises in plant and machinery and surveying skills that accountants do not have and who are likely to have only submitted claims for expenditure on the most obvious items such as pumps, forecourt equipment, etc.

"Some accountants are reluctant but they do not have the skill set required. We complement their service. It is one of the most obscure and difficult areas of tax."

(I venture to suggest that’s why the allowance still exists!)

He also stresses: "This is not a loophole. It’s your legitimate right. You can go right back to when the site was purchased. The higher the original value, the greater the level of allowances available and the greater the tax benefit."

The company’s website says: "Capital allowance claims when completed correctly can be up to 20-25% of the original property value. This is significant."

The website also makes it clear that if the company doesn’t find £25,000 of additional claims it will provide its report for free.

Wilmslow Tax Solutions has recently been recommended to a number of petrol stations but points out that it must work with your accountant to analyse what has and has not been claimed, therefore it should be engaged on the approval of your existing trusted advisor and accountant. If you (or your accountant) want to know more, you can ring the company on 01625 535 456 or email info@wilmslowtax.co.uk

Cunning plans

My mysterious email correspondent ’Gassing Around’ (GA) has been in touch again, this time having a rant about Sainsbury offering 10ppl off if you spend more than £50. "How can an independent ever compete with that? It’s impossible. Where the hell are those b******s buying from?" he roars.

I don’t reckon it’s so much as where they are getting it as how they are paying for it. How are they funding such big discounts? It has to be through their cunning plans involving come-ons and the perceived promise offered by promotions and buy-one-get-one-free bargains.

A 10p-off voucher on a litre is the come-on to get you to the store. Mr Sainsbury is after your actual physical presence. Once there you will pay more for your goods, despite what looks like irresistible deals, than you would have done if you had had the dedication to shop and compare online.

It’s not just me saying this. I’ve just read an interesting summary on the ’cashback bonanza’ in The Times. It seems that many big name retailers are offering percentage kickbacks to shoppers if they buy via a cashback website. The article’s advice to shoppers is to compare prices on comparison websites because online deals are almost always better than in-store ones.

Sainsbury Bank has just launched two cashback credit cards of its own so one way or another, it will get all those shoppers out there.

Some take a positive view of multiple competition. A few months ago, speaking at a conference, Palmer and Harvey chief executive Chris Etherington reckoned that the entry of the multiples into the convenience sector would mean that eventually there will be many products developed specifically for smaller stores. He also reckoned that forecourts were key for growth in the sector. His theory is that the high cost of fuel prompts more ’little and often’ visits by customers.

Lucky me

Sorry guys, I’m putting in my notice. I love this job but I love winning £354,000 more.

Apparently I won online although I don’t remember playing Euro-Millions. Now all I have to do is submit my name, sex (?), address, mobile, fax, email (but they sent an email to me! Oh, I geddit, it’s just like the banks ringing me up and asking me to identify myself for security reasons).

They haven’t asked for my bank details yet, but I’m sure they will so that the funds can be transferred safely. Tell you what I probably won’t quit anyway but just might send in my next column from the South of France.

Watch your backs. It’s a scam per second out there.