Shoe Zone has called for urgent business rate reductions to avoid high street store closures as the retailer posted lower annual profits.

The value footwear retailer said that "maybe 20% of stores could close if rates don't change", with the firm securing rent reductions in order to protect the future of some stores.

Shoe Zone saw underlying pre-tax profits slip 15% to £9.6 million for the year to October 5 as it was hampered by rising costs.

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The retailer said that high business rates have been a particular burden on the business and have weighed down on store expansion plans.

Anthony Smith, who was named chief executive after Nick Davis's exit in August, called on the Government to act soon to stem current pressure on UK high streets.

He said: "We need a change to the rates system because the current cost of rates is too much for retailers, particularly in small towns.

"Current rates don't reflect the market. All we want to see are rates which are aligned with the current rental property market.

"We are a business that is looking to really expand but our numbers haven't really moved over the past year. We've opened about 20 stores and then closed around 20 over same period."

Shares in the company slipped 3.7% to 156p in early trading.

The board of Sirius Minerals is set to recommend a £386 million offer for the company which would leave many investors out of pocket.

The firm, which is trying to build a fertiliser mine in North Yorkshire, said it is in late-stage talks with Anglo American over the 5.5p-a-share offer.

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The bid has not yet been finalised but would be ahead of Sirius's closing share price at 4.1p on Tuesday.

Shares shot up by 33% to 5.4p on the news of the offer on Wednesday.

However it still marks a steep climb-down from a year ago, when the price per share for Sirius Minerals was 22p.

"Anglo American identified the project as being of potential interest some time ago, given the quality of the underlying asset in terms of scale, resource life, operating-cost profile and the nature and quality of its product," Anglo said.

Shares in NMC Health plunged in trading on Wednesday after some of the company's biggest shareholders sold a major stake in the under-fire hospital builder.

The company's value on the London stock exchange dropped by 15% on the news that Saeed Mohamed Butti Mohamed Khalfan Al Qebaisi, and Khaleefa Butti Omair Yousif Ahmed Al Muhairi have sold 15% of the company's shares.

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After the sale Mr Al Qebaisi will still own 4.7% in NMC Health directly, and Mr Al Muhairi will keep a 12.5% shareholding.

The two investors also jointly own a 7% stake in the business through an investment company.

The sale was run by Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank.

The company which builds and operates hospitals in the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere in the Middle East.