Primark, John Lewis not to claim furloughed staff benefit

July 13, 2020 - United Kingdom

Fast fashion retailer Primark recently rejected the UK government’s call to employing back furloughed workers, declining a potential windfall of about £30 million and saying it ‘shouldn’t be necessary’ for it to take advantage of the scheme introduced by chancellor of the treasury Rishi Sunak. John Lewis also said it is not expected to collect any money from the job retention bonus.

Under a scheme introduced by Sunak, firms are being given £1,000 for every worker they bring back into work, even if the company is already up and running following the COVID-19-induced lockdown.

Primark, which reopened UK stores in mid-June and still expects to turn a profit, said it would not claim any money because it had already removed employees from the furlough scheme when its stores reopened. It said it lost £800 million during lockdown, but said sales have been reassuring since it started reopening most of its 375 stores, according to British media reports.

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.

John Lewis furloughed 14,000 shop workers when the crisis began and has already announced eight of its 50 stores will not reopen after the pandemic. Other stores are in the process of a ‘phased reopening’, with the rest of its stores due to open in the coming weeks.