Premier Investments to repay almost $16m of JobKeeper funds

Premier Investments to repay almost $16m of JobKeeper funds

Premier Investments chairman Solomon Lew.

Retail giant Premier Investments (ASX: PMV) will repay nearly $16 million of JobKeeper funds after post-lockdown sales results fully offset the costs of supporting stood down staff.

In an ASX statement released this morning, the company which operates retail brands including Portmans, Smiggle, Jay Jays and more says it will repay $15.6 million of JobKeeper funds.

Previously PMV said it would be setting the money aside to fund the wages of employees who would be stood down under future COVID-19 lockdowns.

Subsequently, short lockdowns took place in Queensland and Western Australia, and during those periods Premier used the JobKeeper funds as intended, paying the group's full time and part time team members their contracted hours.

"Critically, following the lockdowns and upon reopening, increased trading from the combined states has fully offset the cost of supporting our teams through these lockdowns," says Premier Investments.

"Therefore, the JobKeeper funds were ultimately not required to support our teams.

"The Premier Board, having regard to these outcomes, combined with the success of the Commonwealth and State Government's management of COVID-19, has determined that it is now appropriate to refund the net JobKeeper benefit of $15.6 million to the Australian Tax Office."

The announcement comes after Premier Investments appointed JB Hi-Fi (ASX: JBH) boss Richard Murray as the CEO of its retail business, filling the void that will eventually be left by the outgoing Mark McInnes.

Murray's planned exit in late August follows 18 years of service to the electronics and entertainment retailer, and will see him replace McInnes at the Premier Investments (ASX: PMV) subsidiary from 4 October.

The move caps off a major innings for Murray who joined JB Hi-Fi as CFO in 2003 and took the business through the IPO process.

The repayment also follows an extended period of strong sales for PMV's retail brands, with a Summer sales strategy resulting in group profits rising by 88.9 per cent in the first half of FY21.

Shares in PMV are down 1.64 per cent to $25.84 per share at 10.20am AEST.

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