Furniture retailer Nick Scali has said it will repay the more than $3 million in JobKeeper subsidies it received from the Australian Government during the pandemic.
The announcement followed a week of scrutiny, after the business announced a 99.5 per cent increase in profit during the last six months – showing it had enjoyed the bump in homewares trade caused by the pandemic – but that it also taken the taxpayer-funded wage subsidy.
“The company is very appreciative of the Federal Government’s JobKeeper policy which was highly successful and of great assistance of the height of the pandemic,” the business said on Monday afternoon.
“However, as highlighted in last week’s announcement, the company fully recognises that it has benefited from the increased customer confidence this program as created… The board of directors and management have considered the $3.6m wage subsidy received in the half-year [and] decided to refund this amount.”
Labor assistant treasury spokesperson Andrew Leigh said taking such handouts while profiting off of the pandemic shows “extraordinary insensitivity” to the Australians who have lost their job during the pandemic and whose unemployment support is set to be cut.
It is far from the only business that has been targeted for taking wage subsidies while also enjoying the fruits of shifting consumer behaviour, however.
Premier Investments has long been pressured to pay back its share of JobKeeper, which is estimated to near $45 million, after its profits spiked during the pandemic.
Super Retail Group said earlier this year it will return the $1.7 million in subsidies it received after record profits, while car maker Toyota said it will return the $18 million it received.