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UK News Pets At Home becomes latest essential retailer to hand back rates savings

12:05  04 december  2020
12:05  04 december  2020 Source:   pressassociation.com

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Pets at Home is classed as an essential retailer and its shops were allowed to stay open during lockdown restrictions. In March, all retail , hospitality and leisure businesses in England were given a business rates holiday for 12 months to help them get through the crisis. Pets at Home 's sales

Popular retailers . Pets At Home Store – take the items you want to return together with the note you received with the delivery and simply inform the sales assistant you bought it online. Get different bundles of benefits for your pets from regular savings and offers tips and advice tailored especially

Pets At Home has become the latest essential retailer to agree to hand back millions of pounds in business rates relief to the Government.

a sign on the side of a building: Pets At Home is the latest retailer to agree to repay business rates savings (Mike Egerton.PA) © Mike Egerton Pets At Home is the latest retailer to agree to repay business rates savings (Mike Egerton.PA)

The company said it will return £28.9 million, with bosses saying the emergence of a Covid-19 vaccine had allowed them to reassess the levels of uncertainty and that trading remains strong.

The move follows a similar decision by discount retailer B&M, which said on Thursday afternoon that it will repay savings of “around £80 million”.

Asda also said on Thursday that it will return more than £340 million it saved from the rates holiday, following moves by Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Aldi.

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Pets at Home has revealed that William Hewish will join the retailer as chief information officer (CIO) early next year, reporting into CEO Peter Pritchard. Hewish joins Pets at Home from six years at United Utilities, where he led the technology, data and business change teams as CIO.

Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Co-op have said they will not be making similar moves because the savings are needed to offset the Covid-related costs.

Lidl has declined to comment since first approached earlier in the week.

Pets At Home said the decision “reflects the company’s guiding principle of treating all stakeholders fairly and is supported by the continuing strong performance of the business”.

It pointed out that the retailer, which has more than 400 stores across the UK, spent £35 million on Covid-related costs and had previously said the rates holiday would offset them.

But on Friday chief executive Peter Pritchard said the company will make the payment.

a sign in front of a building: Pets At Home has remained open throughout the pandemic (Tim Goode/PA) © Provided by PA Media Pets At Home has remained open throughout the pandemic (Tim Goode/PA)

He said: “We were very grateful for the rates relief provided back in March during a time of significant uncertainty, which helped us to take the decision to keep our stores, online operations and veterinary practices open.

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As much of the retailing business fights for its very survival during the pandemic, determining which stores are essential —and which ones merely think they are essential —has become a contentious issue.

Many essential retailers have provided temporary pay raises to employees through the duration of the coronavirus crisis. 7 Steps to Extraordinary Retail Success.” I am a member of The Home Trust International’s Leaders in Luxury Design and Jim Blasingame: The Small Business Advocate’s Brain

“Recent positive news around the launch of vaccinations for Covid-19 has led us to reassess the level of uncertainty ahead.

“Our decision today demonstrates our clear commitment to acting responsibly and treating all of our stakeholders fairly.”

Pets At Home has seen a surge in sales during the pandemic, benefiting from a self-described “baby boom” in new pet owners.

a person sitting on a bench in front of a brick building: Sainsbury’s has said it will return the money by 2022 (Danny Lawson/PA) © Provided by PA Media Sainsbury’s has said it will return the money by 2022 (Danny Lawson/PA)

Earlier on Thursday, Aldi and Sainsbury’s said they will hand back more than £500 million in business rates relief to the Government.

It came after rivals Tesco and Morrisons made the same commitment on Wednesday.

The decision by the retailers means almost £2 billion will be returned to the Government and puts more pressure on rivals to follow suit.

Retailers are also hoping the payments will lead to wholesale reform of the property tax, with many warning it gives an unfair advantage to online retailers at a time when high streets are struggling.

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We are very mindful that non- essential retailers and many other businesses have been forced to close again Christmas is a time for giving. And Sainsbury has just become the third UK supermarket chain to 🛒 The latest supermarket to fall into line on business rates relief. 💷 NEW: Sainsbury’s will

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Sainsbury’s said it will hand over £440 million saved from the business rates holiday.

Discount retailer Aldi plans to give back more than £100 million, Tesco £585 million and Morrisons £274 million.

Downing Street welcomed the retailers’ decisions to hand back the cash.

Asked whether any remaining supermarkets should follow suit, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “It’s a matter for individual businesses but we have been clear throughout that businesses should use our support appropriately.

“We welcome any decision to repay support where it is no longer needed.”

There have been calls for the money to be handed over to the struggling pubs and hospitality sector.

However, House of Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said in Parliament on Thursday that the money “has already gone”.

Asked for a debate on where the money could be used, he said: “As regards a debate on where the money will go, I’m sorry to say to my honourable friend that, as £280 billion has been spent on supporting businesses during the pandemic, this just reduces it to about £279 billion, so I’m afraid the money has already gone.”

The business rates holiday was announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in March, aimed at helping retailers and hospitality firms forced to close due to the pandemic.

Data compiled last month for the PA news agency by real estate adviser Altus Group projected that the UK’s four largest grocers – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons – plus German rivals Aldi and Lidl, would save about £1.87 billion as a result of the rates holiday.

The total saving for all “essential” retailers, which have been allowed to remain open, is about £3.03 billion, Altus added, from a total rates bill of £10.1 billion.

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