Primark closes stores in Italy, France, Spain and Austria in response to coronavirus outbreak

‘Our priority continues to be the health and safety of our colleagues, customers and partners,’ retailer’s parent company states

Sabrina Barr
Monday 16 March 2020 16:04 GMT
Public transport numbers fall as coronavirus cases rise

Primark has temporarily closed several of its European stores in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday 16 March, the retailer’s owner, Associated British Foods plc, released a statement concerning how the Covid-19 outbreak is affecting its business.

In the statement, the firm stated that its priority is “the health and safety of our colleagues, customers and partners”.

Each of our businesses are closely monitoring the current and potential effects of the outbreak on their operations,” the statement outlined.

The company stated that in its February trading statement, it addressed that there was a risk to the supply of its goods from suppliers in China.

While the situation in China has improved, meaning “supply shortages from that country are now expected to be minimal”, the spread of the coronavirus in regions across Europe has led to the decision to close a number of stores.

“With developments over the last week in Italy and, more materially, over the weekend in France, Spain and Austria, stores accounting for 20 per cent of Primark’s selling space are now closed until the respective governments permit them to re-open,” the statement outlined.

“These stores currently generate 30 per cent of Primark’s sales. From the date of this announcement, we had expected sales of £190m from these stores over the next four weeks.”

The statement continued, assessing the impact the coronavirus outbreak has had on sales in the UK.

“The remainder of the estate, including the UK which represents 41 percent of sales, has seen like-for-like sales declines over the last two weeks and these have accelerated over the past few days as a result of reduced footfall,” it said.

“We are managing the business appropriately but do not expect to significantly mitigate the effect of the contribution lost from these sales.”

Associated British Foods plc stressed that the global impact of Covid-19 means it is “too early to provide earnings guidance for the remainder of the current financial year”, with a further update due to be given on 21 April.

Louis Vuitton’s parent company LVMH recently announced its perfume factories are to manufacture hand sanitiser to reduce the risk of a shortage in France.

If you have any coronavirus symptoms or have recently travelled to an affected area, contact the NHS helpline on 111 and do not visit your GP or hospital.

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