The Board of The Co-op has decided to repay £15.5m of the money it received in Government support during the Covid-19 pandemic. The money equates to the amount it claimed in furlough payments during 2020, which enabled the business to fully support its colleague workforce and keep 3,400 community-based food stores and funeral homes open.
Commenting on this decision, Allan Leighton, Co-op Group Chair, said:
“The Co-op has played a vital and unique role in feeding and caring for the nation through the Covid-19 pandemic and will continue to do so as the vaccine programme is further rolled out. We were grateful for the Government support that allowed us to manage our businesses through the pandemic, particularly our Funeralcare business, which has been working with bereaved families in extraordinarily difficult circumstances, helping them mark the passing of loved ones at a time of national grief.
“The pandemic turned our plans upside down and, while our revenues went up marginally, our costs rose dis-proportionately. We welcomed money from the Government on the basis that it was not a loan and we would not need to pay it back – and we took business decisions accordingly. I want to thank all of our Co-op colleagues who have made such a difference, day in, day out, over the past year and acknowledge the debt we all owe to them.”