Iceland spends £150m on deals despite pocketing £40m Covid relief

The supermarket chain’s investor presentations revealed the Iceland’s owners spent £141m to purchase former shareholder Brait and acquire 28 restaurants

Iceland’s owners have taken and spent £150m from the supermarket chain since the beginning of the pandemic, despite refusing to repay business rates relief, according to The Sunday Times.

The company’s recent investor presentations revealed that Sir Malcolm Waker, Iceland’s founder, used £141m to purchase former shareholder Brait and acquire 28 restaurants, while a further £8.6m was used to buy back shares from former joint MD Nigel Broadhurst.

According to the Times, the supermarket has refused to pay back around £40m of rates relief, despite Iceland sales rising 20% to £2.9bn in the 40 weeks to 1 January 2021.

In March last year, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a 12 months’ business rates relief package available for all retailers, regardless if they needed to close during lockdown.

Due to grocers thriving financially during the pandemic, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Lidl and Aldi revealed returned a total of more than £1.8bn in rates relief.

Waitrose and Marks & Spencers have announced they will not be paying back the rates relief, however.

In a statement to The Times, Iceland said: “We make no apology for using the relief to protect and create jobs and to offset significant Covid-related costs … We have not profiteered in any way from the relief provided.

“Several of our competitors have paid back relief, but are also making thousands of people redundant and closing stores.”

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