Kingfisher, owner of B&Q and Screwfix, has pledged to return £130m in business rates relief it received during the Covid-19 pandemic. This follows assurances from other major UK retailers, with total repayments amounting to more than £2bn.
Numerous retailers had been criticized for accepting government support while announcing dividend payments. Many essential retailers have seen a sales boost during the pandemic.
Pressure is now mounting on other essential retailers to repay the relief.
Tesco first to announce it would repay £585m with others quick to follow
As one of the largest ratepayers in the UK, Tesco became a big beneficiary of the year-long business rates holiday. However, the retailer faced criticism after it paid its investors £315m in October.
On 2nd December, Tesco announced that it would repay £585m in business rates relief. Morrison’s was quick to follow suit, committing to pay £274m. Sainsbury’s, Asda, Aldi, Lidl, Pets at Home, and B&M have all since promised to repay the government financial assistance.
With Kingfisher becoming the latest retailer to commit to this, total repayments will amount to over £2bn.
Pressure is mounting on other retailers
Pressure is building on other essential retailers to repay Covid rates relief. Despite rising costs, sales for many of the larger essential retailers have seen a boost during the pandemic.
Homeware chain, The Range, is yet to comment, while Halfords has said that no decision has been made yet. The Co-op has stated that rising costs associated with protecting staff and customers have outweighed savings made. However, the retailer has said that it will consider the government support it has received at the end of the year.
Marks & Spencer has said it will not repay rates. For M&S, much of its business is composed of non-essential retail, which has had to be closed for a large proportion of the year.
With many of the larger essential retailers now pledging to repay the relief, it is likely that others will follow the example and pay the money back.