SYDNEY, AAP – Furniture retailer Nick Scali is courting controversy with no plans to repay $3.5 million in JobKeeper assistance, despite a bumper profit.

The company on Thursday reported first-half net profit rose by almost 90 per cent to $40.6 million for the six months to December 31.

Consumers have turned to home renovation in droves during the pandemic, as they have been restricted from travelling.

Helping Nick Scali’s earnings was more than $3.5 million in JobKeeper wage subsidies from the federal government.

The subsidy scheme was designed to help employers retain workers during the pandemic.

Companies are not required to repay the taxpayer funds, and Nick Scali shareholders will reap the reward.

Investors are due to receive a fully franked dividend of 40 cents per share. That is better than the interim 2020 payout of 25 cents per share, fully franked.

Nick Scali has been contacted for comment.

Whether to repay JobKeeper subsidies has been a divisive issue for company leaders.

Super Retail Group, the owner of BCF and Supercheap Auto, in January said it would repay $1.7 million in JobKeeper wage support.

Super Retail Group increased first-half net profit by 201 per cent to $173 million.

In its outlook commentary, Nick Scali said sales orders remained strong and were at record levels due to supplier delays.

It said increasing profits were expected for the rest of the financial year.

Shares were lower by 1.04 per cent to $10.49 at 1542 AEDT.