The former Managing Director of John Lewis has called for large online retailers to pay more tax and for struggling town centres to be transformed into free trade zones.

The basis on which business rates are calculated has been criticised for being outdated and blamed for the financial difficulties faced by high street retailers such as Arcadia Group, House of Fraser and Select.

Those difficulties have had a knock on effect of devaluing commercial landlords' portfolios as they see an increase in the number of empty stores and have had to accept lower rents as a consequence of CVAs or negotiated by retailers which are too big to fail.