Primark rejects £30m windfall with John Lewis set to follow

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Primark John Lewis furlough covid-19
Primark said it is not necessary to tap into government scheme paying £1000 per worker brought back from furlough
// Primark declines government’s offer to take back furloughed workers into full employment
// John Lewis is not expected to collect any money from the Treasury’s job retention bonus
// Under the scheme, companies can be paid £1000 for every worker brought back from furlough

Primark has rejected the government’s call to taking back furloughed workers into full employment, declining a potential windfall of about £30 million – with John Lewis set to follow its steps.

The fast fashion retailer said it “shouldn’t be necessary” for it to take advantage of the scheme introduced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week, while John Lewis said it is not expected to collect any money from the Treasury’s job retention bonus.

Under the scheme, companies can be paid a job retention bonus of £1000 for every worker brought back from furlough.


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Primark said it would not claim any money because it had already removed employees from the furlough scheme when its stores reopened.

The retailer reopened UK stores in mid-June and still expects to turn a profit. It said it lost £800 million during lockdown, but said sales have been reassuring since it started reopening most of its 375 stores.

It has said it would have been forced to lay off most of its 68,000 workers around Europe had it not been for various government furlough schemes.

Meanwhile, John Lewis furloughed 14,000 shop workers at the start of the crisis, and has already announced eight of its 50 stores will not reopen after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Major stores will close in Birmingham and Watford, smaller stores in Heathrow airport, St Pancras train station, plus At Home shops in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth.

Other stores are in the process of a “phased reopening”, with the rest of its stores due to open in the coming weeks.

The scheme is expected to cost the Treasury around £8 billion, with the Government paying out for the return to work of many of the 9.4 million UK workers who were furloughed because of the pandemic.

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