'Astonishing corporate greed'

Tesco accused of ‘rampant profiteering’ as ‘obscene’ profits published

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The UK’s biggest supermarket Tesco continues its shameless profiteering spree, Unite said on Thursday (April 13) as the stock exchange published the retailer’s latest figures.

Although Tesco’s profits were down from last year’s profits bonanza – which totalled a record-breaking £2bn in pre-tax profits – the supermarket still made an astonishing £3bn in profits over the last two years.

And as the Guardian highlighted, Tesco’s profits this year were mostly hit only because of a £982m write-down on the value of properties and £138m restructuring, which, the Guardian said, included hundreds of job cuts.

This means that Tesco, which has a 27 per cent share of the UK supermarket sector, making it Britain’s largest supermarket, has continued gouging its customers like never before.

Commenting on Tesco’s latest results, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Tesco’s profits are another example of excessive profiteering fired up by astonishing corporate greed. It’s this rampant profiteering which is driving inflation, and cranking up the cost of living crisis for workers and their families.

“How can it be that at a time when millions of are struggling to feed their families Britain’s biggest supermarket is profiteering as never before. What sort of country have we become? Frankly, the latest results are obscene.

“There has been an abject failure in leadership from the government who have done absolutely nothing to reduce these staggeringly excessive profits of supermarkets like Tesco.”

Unite has also highlighted that like previous years, Tesco shareholders have been rewarded with eye-watering bonuses. In 2021/22 a total of £704m was paid in dividends, and last July the company also launched another big payday for shareholders in its £1bn share buyback scheme.

Tesco was also heavily criticised last year for lavishing its CEO Ken Murphy with a £3.2m bonus, taking his total pay for the year to £4.74m – 224 times the total pay and benefits of an average Tesco employee.

Unite has highlighted that Tesco’s latest profits are further evidence of rampant profiteering happening right across the economy.

In March, Unite published a new report on profiteering, which showed that the profits of the 350 largest companies in the UK have soared by 89 per cent in 2022 from pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Unite’s research found that in the supermarket sector specifically, the top three supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda – which together sell over half the UK’s groceries, made combined profits of £3.2bn in 2021, nearly double pre-pandemic levels.

Commenting last month after supermarket price inflation in the UK hit a record high, adding £837 to annual household bills, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Despite the rise in wholesale prices, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda still managed to increase their profits by an astonishing 97% in 2021. At the same time the 8 top UK food manufacturers made profits of £22.9 billion. Profiteering is happening right along the food supply chain and workers are paying the price.

“It’s more evidence that the British public are hostage to greedflation,” she added. “It’s time our elected leaders and policy makers woke up to corporate greed and challenged it head on.”

Are you angry about profiteering – and the failure of politicians to do anything about it? Then join our Unite for a Workers’ Economy campaign – find out more here.

By Hajera Blagg