The chief executive of bakery chain Greggs stepped up his fight against the "completely confusing" pasty tax on Wednesday ahead of a meeting with the Treasury.
Greggs boss Ken McMeikan claimed the chain's customers have received "universal support" for their campaign against the Government's plans to extend the 20% VAT tax to hot takeaway food – significantly increasing the price of the chain's hot pies, pasties and sausage rolls.
Mr McMeikan will present his company's own proposal tomorrow to David Gauke, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, which it claims is "simpler and more workable".
Greggs would prefer to see VAT charged on all food kept hot for sale in a heated environment after cooking, all food re-heated to order and all food supplied in heat-retaining packaging, which would leave fresh bakery food unaffected.
He said: "Our customers think that this is the wrong tax. They're completely confused by it. At a time when the consumer is under enormous pressure, our customers remain clear - this is something they do not want."
Mr McMeikan said Greggs had the support of the National Association of Master Bakers, which represents around 1,000 smaller retailers, and the Cornish Pasty Association.
The bakery chain, which has 1,600 shops in the UK, also said today it had endured six "disappointing" weeks of trading as a result of recent heavy rainfall.
The group opened 25 new shops in the period and is on track to open a net 90 new shops by the end of the year. The baker said it also completed 42 shop refurbishments in the period, in line with its plan to refit a total of 100 to 120 shops this year.
The group recorded a 1.8% drop in like-for-like sales in the 19 weeks to May 12, but its aggressive store-opening programme helped lift total sales by 4.3% in the period.
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