The business rates relief was introduced by the government to help retailers through a difficult period
Dixons Carphone has indicated it has no plan to pay back business rates relief despite reporting a rise in profits after online sales made up for closures enforced during the coronavirus pandemic.
Online sales more than doubled to £1.8bn in the half year to 31 October, and overall sales in the UK and Ireland electricals business rose by 15%. The group made a profit before interest and tax of £100m in the six-month period.
The company said “the impact of temporary store closures was more than offset by strong online sales growth” as consumers and workers confined to their homes bought laptops and computer games to get them through lockdowns.
Dixons Carphone, which also runs the Currys and PC World brands, said it received business rates tax relief worth £34m in the UK from the start of the pandemic up to 31 October.
The business rates relief was introduced by the government to help retailers through what was feared to be a difficult period. However, many retailers have now repaid the relief after sales performed better than expected.
These include most of the UK’s large supermarket chains and other essential retailers who remained open through the lockdowns, who collectively repaid more than £1.8bn after criticism of their retention of the money.
Alex Baldock, Dixons Carphone’s chief executive, repeatedly stressed that the company was “winning” in spite of “fighting with one hand tied behind our back” during the pandemic with store closures.
He said the company had been “responsible”. We can look at ourselves in the mirror, he said.
Dixons Carphone was not classed as an essential retailer, meaning its stores were closed through each lockdown. Overall, the company said the cost of the disruption, including the store closures and extra spending on safety measures, was £155m. After government support the negative impact was £10m.
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