Co-op won’t pay back business rates relief due to ‘disproportionate Covid costs’
8 April 2021
City snapshot: UK retail industry sees green shoots of recovery in March
9 April 2021

The boss of the Co-operative Group has defended keeping £65m of taxpayer support despite its profits rising 429% last year and increasing bonuses for bosses (The Times £). The Co-operative Group has come under attack from supermarket rivals for its decision to keep £66m of business rates relief it received during the pandemic despite posting a leap in profits and paying out executive bonuses (The Telegraph). The Co-operative Group said it would repay about £15m of furlough scheme assistance that it received from the UK government, but has reiterated its refusal to return £66m of business rates relief (The Financial Times £). The Co-operative Group is to repay £16m in furlough payments to the government, but will hold on to more than £66m in business rates relief despite announcing a surge in profits during the pandemic (The Guardian). The Co-op will pay bonuses to top bosses despite holding on to £66million of taxpayers’ cash amidst a five-fold rise in profits (The Daily Mail). The Co-op Group is to hand annual bonuses to senior executives despite refusing to repay £65m in business rates relief it received from the government to support it through the pandemic (Sky News).

Co-op’s ethical credentials are in tatters, writes Ben Marlow in The Telegraph. Increased Covid costs are little more than a smokescreen, he writes, at least Marks & Spencer can point to the prolonged closure of its clothing arm, while John Lewis is able to reasonably claim that without the Treasury’s handout it might struggle to stay afloat. (The Telegraph)

Nils Pratley in The Guardian writes: “The implied plea of poverty is confused when you see that the Co-op simultaneously thinks it can afford bonuses for executives at pre-pandemic levels. So the financial danger, or whatever we’re meant to assume, can’t be too extreme.” (The Guardian)

Morrisons says it will be the first supermarket to remove plastic carrier “bags for life” from its stores (Sky News). The supermarket chain will switch from offering plastic “bags for life” to a paper alternative (The BBC).

Don’t believe anyone who says the High Street is dead, says M&S boss Steve Rowe who issues a rallying cry to retailers in the Mail as he prepares to reopen his stores on Monday. (The Daily Mail)

Bollinger is heading to the US for its first acquisition outside France. The Bollinger family have agreed a deal to buy the renowned Ponzi Vineyards in Oregon, a producer of pinot noir for half a century. (The Times £)

A third of people who have managed to save money during the coronavirus pandemic are planning not to spend it, even as restrictions ease. (Sky News)

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