Pets at Home Group, owner of the Handforth-based pet care retailer, has become the latest major brand to return business rates relief payments it was given as part of the government’s Covid-19 support.
Pets at Home will return the £28.9 million in business rates relief to the Treasury, despite the Handforth-based retailer having taken a £35 million hit to its finances as a result of the pandemic, such as through costs of implementing Covid-secure measures.
The group’s stores were permitted to continue trading throughout both national lockdowns, as pet care retailers were classed as ‘essential’ for animal welfare.
CEO of the Handforth headquartered pet care group, Peter Pritchard, 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.
“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.”
Pets at Home Group joins a number of major supermarkets, including Tesco and Sainsbury’s, who have also returned the support they received to the Treasury. In contrast to much of the retail sector, supermarkets have seen a boost in performance due to the pandemic as Britons were forced to eat more of their food at home.