Primark is expected to reject around £30 million in bonus payments for bringing furloughed staff back into work amid signs of encouraging sales.
The high street retailer has been praised for doing its bit to protect the public purse after it moved to shun the £1,000 bonus for its 30,000 staff.
The move will heap pressure on other businesses to turn down the £9 billion handouts from the Treasury, which the Chancellor admits will go to many companies that are already back up and running after lockdown.
Last year it made profits of more than £900 million, with owner Associated British Foods (ABF) saying sales have been “encouraging” after reopening sites, despite predicting a major hit to profits.
Only eight of the 375 Primark stores have not yet reopened, with reports of “reassuring” trade from stores which have welcomed customers again.
It said sales in the first week of reopening in England and Wales were “ahead of the same week last year” after raking in £133 million from customers.
Rishi Sunak used his mini-Budget last week to announce more extraordinary steps to prop up the economy.
Every business that brings back one of the 9million furloughed employees on a decent wage and keeps them on the books until January will also get £1,000 – even if they were already back at work before the policy was introduced.
A spokesman for Primark’s parent group ABF said: “I can confirm that Primark does not intend to take advantage of support under the Job Retention Bonus announced by the Chancellor this week.
“The company removed its employees from government employment support schemes in the UK and Europe in line with the reopening of the majority of its stores.
“The company believes it should not be necessary therefore to apply for payment under the Bonus scheme on current circumstances.”
According to the Sunday Times, William Hill has joined Primark in rejecting the bonus payments.