Goldney brands Tesco support a “disgrace”

Seething Darren Goldney launched a stinging attack on the government’s decision to give business rates relief to Tesco after the supermarket posted a profit.

The Hertfordshire-based retailer announced a £551 million profit during the coronavirus crisis, only months after it was awarded £600m to help with the impact of the crisis.

And Unitas Managing Director Darren Goldney, whose member wholesalers received no additional business support, branded the move as a “disgrace” and “absurd”.

With heavier restrictions on hospitality coming into force in the central belt of Scotland during October and more expected in northern parts of England next week, Goldney can only see the imbalance getting worse.

“The Scottish government has shut down the hospitality sector again and driven consumers back to Tesco and other national supermarkets,” said Goldney.

“We can see the same happening elsewhere in the UK and whilst we naturally don’t like and may not agree with measures that hurt, we do respect government has to make tough decisions. However, what we can’t respect is an absolute failure to manage fairly the consequence of those decisions  and allow ‘viable‘ businesses and jobs go to the wall because they’ve put billions into the wrong place.”

Only last week, Goldney made a plea for wholesalers across the sector to join arms in an attempt to get ministers to take notice of the plight many businesses in the sector were in.

And with the impact on ailing foodservice wholesalers likely to have a knock-on effect on the health care facilities, education establishments and care homes they supply, the Unitas chief says the reverberations could be a wide-reaching.

“I don’t know how these people can sleep at night,” Goldney continued. “The Chancellor [Rishi Sunak] and his team who made such a blundersome initial award and the Tesco management, who I’m sure are good people and have worked really hard, but ultimately have been the recipient of both cash they did not need and huge sales increases on the back of the pandemic.

“On our side, the sleepless nights are caused by wholesalers having received no meaningful support at all, especially the business rate relief that we’ve continually asked for. They have been doggedly keeping open critical routes to care homes, hospitals and hospitality, even making a loss to do so. Some just can’t do it much longer.

“We need the government and those who have ‘windfall’ benefit from this crisis to do the right thing.  Taxpayers money is finite. The money is in the wrong place and wholesale is able to laser target it to those in the supply chain who support outlets that our population rely on.”

chancellor Darren Goldney Foodservice Government hospitality Rishi Sunak Unitas Unitas Wholesale