Waitrose has announced record levels of profit as grocery sales soared last year, having been awarded millions in government support during the pandemic.
According to the accounts filed a week ago, Waitrose’s profits grew by 71 per cent to £277.5 million, its highest year on record.
Supermarket sales increased by 10.3 per cent, while online sales grew by 182 per cent.
Waitrose was granted £85 million in business rates relief last year but refused to follow the lead of Big 4 grocers Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons and Asda, which have returned billions in taxpayer funds.
Writing in The Guardian, financial editor Nils Pratley said there was “no justification for Waitrose keeping its Covid rate relief cash.”
“We’ve only taken from the government what we’ve felt necessary to get us through the pandemic,” a Waitrose spokeswoman told The Grocer.
“We used funding exactly for the reason it was provided – protecting jobs and the business.”
It “was critical to cover the direct operational costs relating to Covid and the substantial hit to trading operating profit,” she added.
The news comes after the Co-op faced substantial criticism for keeping hold of £65 million in business rates relief while awarding multi-million bonuses to its executives.