Sainsbury’s forgoes £410m rates relief

Sainsbury’s has joined rivals Tesco and Morrisons in a pledge to repay the government’s business rates relief, bringing the total number of returned costs to over £1bn.

The supermarket has revealed plans to forgo approximately £410m of its business rates relief. In a statement, Sainsbury’s said it has been considering the move since the “announcement of a second national lockdown” in England back in October. It added that since the chain was considered an essential retailer sales and profits have been “stronger than originally expected”. 

It follows a decision by Tesco this week to repay £585m of its rates relief after the store revealed it was “immensely grateful” for the financial and policy support provided by the government. 

On the same day fellow ‘big four’ grocer Morrisons outlined plans to pay £274m, with the company stating it has a “very strong balance sheet and underlying cash flow”. 

A rates relief was granted to all retail and hospitality businesses in April for a 12-month period to help stores during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Simon Roberts, CEO, Sainsbury’s said: “We have been proud to play our part in feeding the nation in this extraordinary year and every one of our colleagues has gone above and beyond to support each other, our customers and our communities. 

“While we have incurred significant costs in keeping colleagues and customers safe, food and other essential retailers have benefited from being able to open throughout. With regional restrictions likely to remain in place for some time, we believe it is now fair and right to forgo the business rates relief that we have been given on all Sainsbury’s stores.”

He added: “We are very mindful that non-essential retailers and many other businesses have been forced to close again in the second lockdown and we hope that this goes some way towards helping them.

“We remain focused on delivering the plan we set out at our half year results. We continue to urge government to review the business rates system to create more of a level playing field between physical and online retailers.”

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