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Glenfeshie laird pays back millions of 'furlough' handouts to public purse

By Tom Ramage

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Anders Holch Povlsen has surprised financial observers by becoming the only known Scottish employer to repay the public money he received to furlough workers.

During the lockdown crisis he laid off some 50 staff across his vast Highland estates.

All were employed by his company Wildland Ltd and they are now back at work.

His clothing company, Bestseller, is due to confirm at next month's AGM that it has avoided its first ever financial deficit.

"Our financial results will not look pretty," he said in his statement this week, "however we will make a profit."

The result has prompted the company to repay the support package it received from the Danish government.

Some 10.5 million Euros is involved.

Anders Holch Povlsen (Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix)
Anders Holch Povlsen (Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix)

“The books are closed and we are now awaiting our final closing of the accounts," he said.

"We can already see that we have managed to avoid the first deficit in the history of our company, which we had previously expected.

"This would not have been possible without all our partners, our landlords and our suppliers – and, in particular, our colleagues. They have all played a crucial role in helping us accomplish this unexpected result."

”We have seen a will to succeed and a fighting spirit throughout the entire company.

"It has been a great collective effort, where we – as a partner of many retail companies – have offered our financial support, including discounts and marketing contributions – to help our customers and partners through the crisis.”

The pandemic is still creating an unstable situation, both in Denmark and internationally, he said, and the company had to continue actively adapting to that.

"Back in March, we reacted swiftly and tried to diligently plan for the worst, while fighting for the best.

"In light of this, I am pleased to confirm that Bestseller has managed to avoid its first deficit.

"This also means that we are gradually looking into recruitment – both in terms of re-hiring colleagues and identifying new candidates.

" It is also on the basis of this that we have paid the Danish government back for the support package we received."

Bestseller employs some 17,000 colleagues globally. In Denmark it was forced to lay off 750 colleagues, while 2,400 were sent home.

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