Co-op under attack for keeping business rates relief

The Co-operative Group has arrive below attack from supermarket rivals for its choice to keep £66m of business costs aid it acquired during the pandemic irrespective of posting a leap in profits and paying out out executive bonuses.

The mutual, which requires delight in its “truly ethical investing” credentials, will award bonuses to senior professionals.

One major supermarket executive said they were being “flabbergasted” by Co-op’s choice to not repay the cash and accused the retailer of “nuclear-powered hypocrisy”.

They included: “From a firm that has spent the final decade thrusting their values down anyone’s throat and taking the moral higher ground, to search 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-powered, ocean-heading hypocrisy.”

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

The mutual, which also has funeral, authorized companies and pharmacy divisions, documented profits of £11.5bn for the yr to Jan two, £600m bigger than in 2019.

Pre-tax profits at the team rose to £127m from £24m, although underlying working profits for its foods enterprise jumped from £283m to £350m.

The Co-op mentioned it would repay £15.5m in furlough help claimed by means of the Coronavirus Position Retention Plan, but included that it experienced been pressured to spend £84m to deal with costs specifically related with the pandemic these as PPE for staff.

Steve Murrells, main executive of the team, mentioned: “What the board has completed is completely in line with our values and ethics. The choice was completely supported by the members’ council, we have not compensated a dividend and we do not have the exact same access to funds marketplaces as other individuals might.”