Monday 7 December 2020 8:43 am

Kingfisher joins supermarkets in returning business rates relief

DIY retailer Kingfisher has joined a list of retailers announcing plans to repay millions in business rates relief it received at the start of the pandemic. 

The FTSE 100 firm has announced it will pay back £130m in tax relief, pointing to strong sales since it reopened its UK stores in April amid high demand for DIY during lockdown. 

Kingfisher shut its B&Q and Screwfix stores in the UK for in-store sales despite being classified as an essential retailer. 

In an update last month Kingfisher said its third-quarter revenues grew 17.6 per cent to £3.5bn, buoyed by an uptick in footfall and growth in ecommerce. Revenue growth slowed in the first two weeks of the fourth quarter as England entered a second national lockdown. 

Without the relief, Kingfisher’s results for the year to January will include £90m less non-recurring cost savings of £85m, down from the previous guidance of £175m. 

It comes after a flurry of retailers last week announced they would forgo the rates relief amid criticism that companies doing well were continuing to receive aid. 

Tesco surprised rivals by announcing it would pay back £585m of business support, which prompted other supermarkets to follow suit.

Sainsbury’s has since pledged to return £440m, Morrisons £274m, Asda £340m and Aldi £100m. Budget retailer B&M has committed to forgoing £80m, while Pets at Home this morning announced it would return £28.9m. 

Waitrose has reportedly refused to join its rivals, blaming struggles at sister company John Lewis. 

Kingfisher said it had already repaid £23m it had received under the government’s job retention scheme, also introduced at the start of the pandemic. 

“Given this resilience, and our commitment to support our communities, we believe that returning the UK and Irish business rates relief in full is the right thing to do,” said chief executive Thierry Garnier.