Discount retailer B&M has become the latest essential retailer to say it will hand back business rates relief, telling shareholders it will return its savings of “around £80 million”.
It comes after supermarkets Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Aldi said they would hand back more than £1.7 billion following a business rate holiday for the current financial year.
In a stock market announcement, B&M European Value Retail said “although significant uncertainty remains, the group believes it is now right to forego the business rates relief granted to B&M”.
Downing Street welcomed grocers’ decisions to hand back cash from the business rates holiday after Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Aldi all committed to return savings.
Asked whether the remaining supermarkets should follow suit, the Prime Minister’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.”
On Wednesday morning, Tesco was the first to reveal plans to hand back cash, saying it will return its £585 million rates holiday.
Now, about £1.4 billion in total has been pledged to be returned following similar commitments by Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Aldi.
Retail analyst Richard Hyman told the PA news agency that essential retailers will now be expected to follow their example.
“Corporate social responsibility comes in many forms. This example of @Tesco handing back tax relief is a welcome recognition of their responsibility to the country not just their shareholders. Thank you @Tesco!” a social media user said.
“Brilliant decision,” said another.