High-end furniture retailer Nick Scali has handed back million of dollars in wage subsidies after sparking a furore by revealing how much JobKeeper it pocketed while enjoying huge first half profit growth.

The company last week reported a 99.5 per cent surge in underlying net profit for the six months ended December 31, describing it as an "exceptional" trading period.

It attributed the record result to capitalising on "shifting consumer spending patterns" towards items for the home during the pandemic, which offset store closures, supply chain problems and significant shipping delays.

Nick Scali also said it was eligible for the first phase of the Australian government's JobKeeper scheme up until September as well as the New Zealand government's equivalent scheme for a shorter period in August, receiving $3.555 million.

Shoppers have gone crazy buying items for the home during the pandemic. Picture: Liam Kidston.
Shoppers have gone crazy buying items for the home during the pandemic. Picture: Liam Kidston.

Shadow Assistant Minister Treasury Andrew Leigh was among those unimpressed, urging the company to pay it back.

Late on Monday, Nick Scali quietly announced it had done just that.

"The company is very appreciative of the federal government's JobKeeper policy which was highly successful and of great assistance at the height of the pandemic - enabling the company to provide security of employment during a particularly uncertain time," it said.

"The JobKeeper scheme enabled the company to continue to pay employees throughout the state government-mandated closures in Melbourne throughout August, September and October, and continue to pay employees in full during other temporary Covid-related store closures in South Australia and Western Australia as recently as last week.

"However, as highlighted in last week's announcement, the company fully recognises that it has benefited from the increased consumer confidence this program has created, which resulted in record sales and net profit after tax. "

Originally published as Nick Scali caves to public pressure



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