POLITICS

DIY Giant B&Q Could Charge Scots More If They Back Independence

09/09/2014 14:11 BST | Updated 09/09/2014 14:59 BST
Bloomberg via Getty Images
A pedestrian walks past a B&Q home improvement store, operated by Kingfisher Plc, in Manchester, U.K., on Monday, March 24, 2014. Kingfisher, the owner of the B&Q DIY chain, may announce a dividend for shareholders or share buyback option at its annual results, the Financial Times newspaper reported last week. Photographer: Paul Thomas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Scottish consumers could be forced to pay higher prices at household names like B&Q if Scotland gains independence in next week's referendum, the boss of Britain's biggest DIY retail group has warned.

Sir Ian Cheshire, boss of the Kingfisher group, told Sky News that a vote for independence would almost inevitably force the business to pass on the increased costs to customers.

"We think there is a real risk in terms of higher costs, the uncertainty about a currency union and the difficulty of making investment decisions," he said. "Smaller, more complex markets often mean passing higher costs on to consumers."

Sir Ian's intervention comes as other business leaders are expected to speak up in defence of the union, with prime minister David Cameron urging bosses on Monday to make their views known to help preserve the union.

ian cheshire bq

Sir Ian Cheshire takes David Cameron around one of his B&Q stores

Sir Ian was among 23 business leaders to back Cameron's pre-election pledge to cut national insurance, served on his business taskforce working on ways to slash EU red tape, and was knighted last year.

See also:

Scottish Independence: Cameron, Miliband And Clegg Abandon PMQs To Campaign For No Vote

Mark Carney Warns Currency Union 'Incompatible' With Scottish Independence

Sir Ian's comments come after supermarket giants reportedly feared that independence could force them to increase food costs for Scots due to the increased cost of distributing goods.

The furore has seen pro-independence campaigners threaten to boycott Asda and Morrisons, with others expressing fury at Tesco and Sainsbury’s, the other big supermarket chains.

Scottish Independence: Who Stands Where

The B&Q chief's comments come as the head of one of Britain's largest defence suppliers, France's Thales, suggested that a "yes" vote could put jobs and investment in Scotland at risk.

Thales chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy told Reuters: :It is clear that if it is cut off from Scotland, the rest of Great Britain will have fewer resources to devote to defence and this will inevitably lead us to re-examine our industrial framework.

"There would be questions over the capabilities we keep in the UK and there would also be questions over the facilities we maintain in Scotland."