STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Ingka Group, the owner of most IKEA stores, said on Tuesday it had repaid aid received from the Serbian government to cover wages for furloughed staff during lockdown, and was about to do the same in Romania.
The world’s biggest furniture retailer will also repay aid in Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the United States.
“Our main focus here is simply to return the generous support that was made available by governments to businesses during this difficult time,” Ingka Group’s head of retail Tolga Oncu said in an email.
“Whilst no one knows how things will continue to develop, we now have a better understanding of the impact of the crisis on our business and have therefore decided to pay it back as it is the right thing to do.”
Romanian Finance Minister Florin Citu thanked the company on Facebook for not using the 858,504 lei ($200,833) necessary to cover technical unemployment between March 17 and June 12.
“IKEA representatives said that although we are facing many challenges ahead, in their opinion the company’s results will be better than they were expecting a few months ago. Therefore, IKEA made the decision not to use the state budget funds,” Citu said.
British business supplies distributor Bunzl <BNZL.L> on Monday said it too planned to repay government support and bring forward deferred tax payments, following better-than-expected sales during the crisis.
IKEA stores are gradually reopening worldwide after most closed temporarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom in Stockholm and Luiza Ilie in Bucharest; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)