Retail organisation Kingfisher, which owns brands such as B&Q and Screwfix, is to repay £23 million it claimed from the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention scheme.
The organisation furloughed 50% of its 80,000 employees during March and April 2020 in order to deal with the financial implication of lockdown measures across the world. When stores reopened in the UK and France at the end of May, the business reduced the percentage of its workforce on furlough to 10%.
All remaining employees, except for those who are deemed vulnerable or at higher risk of infection, returned to work from 1 June and 1 July. Due to its strong financial position going forward, the organsiation decided not to claim the UK Job Retention Bonus, a £1,000 payment that the government will pay for every employee am employer returns from furlough and keep on the payroll until the end of January 2021.
Kingfisher has committed to repaying the UK furlough costs of £23 million in the second half of the year.
Thierry Garnier, chief executive officer at Kingfisher, said: “We delivered a resilient financial performance in the first half of the year, with the adverse impact of Covid-19 in quarter one offset by a strong recovery in quarter two. This recovery has continued into quarter three to date, with growth across all banners and categories.
“There remains considerable uncertainty around Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and our near-term priorities have not changed: to provide support to the communities in which we operate, to look after our colleagues as a responsible employer, to serve our customers as a retailer of essential goods, and to protect our business for the long term. We remain proud of, and humbled by, the response of our teams to the current challenges.
“Looking forward, while the near-term outlook is uncertain, the longer-term opportunity for Kingfisher is significant. There is a lot more to do, but the new team and new plan is now established in the business and we are committed to returning Kingfisher to growth.”