Pets at Home has announced its decision to repay in full the £28.9m of business rates relief received across the business to the government.
The group said its decision reflects the company’s “guiding principle of treating all stakeholders fairly”, but is also supported by a continuing strong performance across the business.
It comes as the group said it was “extremely grateful” for the financial support provided in March to support the business through the pandemic, which enabled it to adapt operations and continue operating as an “essential” retailer.
Nonetheless, the aggregate result of Covid-related costs and restrictions means that the financial impact of the pandemic, currently estimated at over £35m, will no longer be offset by the rates relief received.
Peter Pritchard, group CEO, said: “I continue to be immensely proud of the tireless efforts of my colleagues across the business and the work they are doing to meet the needs of our nation’s pets week after week in the pandemic.
“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. Recent positive news around the launch of vaccinations for Covid-19 has led us to reassess the level of uncertainty ahead.”
He added: “Pets at Home is a robust business, both operationally and financially, with amazing colleagues, great operations, good liquidity and a strong balance sheet. Our decision today demonstrates our clear commitment to acting responsibly and treating all of our stakeholders fairly.”