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Major supermarkets to return £1.3bn in business rates relief

Written by on 03/12/2020

Three of the UK’s ‘big four’ supermarket chains have now confirmed plans to return a total of almost £1.3bn in coronavirus aid to the public purse.

Sainsbury’s revealed on Thursday morning it was to discuss with officials how it could hand back an expected £410m – following in the footsteps of biggest rival Tesco first – and then Morrisons.

The UK’s second-largest supermarket chain said it had been discussing such a move since England’s second national lockdown was announced in October. It ended on Wednesday.

The company said it took the decision because it had benefited from its essential retail status.

Its statement said: “As a result of this, Sainsbury’s sales and profits have been stronger than originally expected, particularly since the start of the second national lockdown in England and we have therefore taken the decision to forego the business rates relief on all Sainsbury’s stores.”

It leaves Asda as the only member of the ‘big four’ to confirm whether it will return its business rates relief – granted to all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for 12 months from April.

Marks and Spencer was one company to confirm it had no plans to give back more than £80m it had received but it does not have a grocery-led operation and its clothing and home offering is exposed to the crisis facing the wider high street.

This week has seen the collapse of three big names in Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group, Debenhams and Bonmarche.

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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