Morrisons says it is to extend its 10% discount for NHS workers until the end of the year as the government faces a backlash over its planned 1% hike in pay for nurses.
The UK’s fourth-largest supermarket chain made the announcement as it revealed financial results for 2020 that showed a 62% plunge in pre-tax profits, largely because of a £290m hit to its bottom line from COVID-19 pandemic costs, despite a surge in sales.
The chain first introduced its discount for NHS workers in April last year as the country grappled the first lockdown imposed by the government to curb the spread of the disease.
Morrisons said its discount reflected “continuing gratitude” for the work of the health service during the crisis to date.
The government is facing a charge from critics that it does not value the sacrifices made by nurses as it defends its handling of a proposed award of 1%.
As hospital staff battled surging cases, supermarkets were benefiting from their status as essential retail.
Morrisons reported an 8.6% rise in group like-for-like sales during 2020 with total revenues hitting £17.6bn.
But it said that profit before tax and exceptional costs slid by 50.7% to £201m – a result of £290m in coronavirus-related costs including staff absences and measures to keep staff and customers safe.
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