Co-op under attack for keeping business rates relief

The Co-operative Group has occur below attack from supermarket rivals for its final decision to…

The Co-operative Group has occur below attack from supermarket rivals for its final decision to keep £66m of business charges reduction it received for the duration of the pandemic despite posting a leap in income and having to pay out executive bonuses.

The mutual, which will take delight in its “actually ethical trading” qualifications, will award bonuses to senior administrators.

A person top supermarket executive said they have been “flabbergasted” by Co-op’s final decision to not repay the dollars and accused the retailer of “nuclear-driven hypocrisy”.

They added: “From a organization that has used the last decade thrusting their values down anyone’s throat and taking the ethical higher floor, to glimpse their customers square in the eye and say ‘you can whistle for your revenue back’ and ‘no, it will not contradict our values’, it is really nuclear-driven, ocean-going hypocrisy.”

The main executive of another retailer that returned the charges relief said: “It would’ve been incredibly useful to continue to keep it, but it is really not our revenue – it is really taxpayers’.”

The mutual, which also has funeral, lawful expert services and pharmacy divisions, reported product sales of £11.5bn for the year to Jan 2, £600m greater than in 2019.

Pre-tax income at the team rose to £127m from £24m, though underlying running income for its food items business enterprise jumped from £283m to £350m.

The Co-op said it would repay £15.5m in furlough support claimed by way of the Coronavirus Career Retention Plan, but added that it had been forced to devote £84m to include charges instantly involved with the pandemic this kind of as PPE for staff members.

Steve Murrells, main executive of the team, said: “What the board has done is wholly in line with our values and ethics. The final decision was wholly supported by the members’ council, we haven’t paid a dividend and we don’t have the very same obtain to funds markets as other individuals may possibly.”