Supermarkets chains across the UK have decided to repay the government and the Devolved Administrations the business relief rates they received during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tesco is giving back £585 million while Aldi is returning more than £100m. Sainsbury’s and Lidl also agreed to repay its relief rates.
“We are financially strong enough to be able to return this to the public, and we are conscious of our responsibilities to society,” said Tesco chairman John Allan. “We firmly believe now that this is the right thing to do, and we hope this will enable additional support to those businesses and communities who need it.”
Giles Hurley, Chief Executive Officer at Aldi UK, said: “Thanks to our amazing colleagues, we have been able to remain open during lockdowns and despite the increased costs we have incurred during the pandemic, we believe returning the full value of our business rates relief is the right decision to help support the nation. Our continued investment for our colleagues and our customers will remain unchanged.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, there were huge concerns about whether or not supermarkets would be able to overcome the costs of increased safety protocols, delivery service, limited and then extended hours as well as pressure on supply lines and colleagues.
But they have been incredibly nimble and forward-thinking in getting food to customers, in store and at home, and even to the most vulnerable populations.
Tesco officials said the relief rates made it much easier for retailers to be able to invest in workers and innovation.
“Our colleagues have done an exceptional job in responding to the challenges of the pandemic,” said Ken Murphy, Tesco Group Chief Executive. “We have invested more than £725m in supporting our colleagues, putting safety first, more than doubling our online capacity to support the most vulnerable customers in our communities, and hiring thousands of additional colleagues at a time of need. While business rates relief was a critical support at a time of significant uncertainty, some of the potential risks we faced are now behind us.”