Britain's Marks & Spencer warns of 'severe impact' from coronavirus outbreak; not to pay final dividend for 2019-20

Marks & Spencer said pretax profit before one off items for the 2019-20 year could be at or below the bottom end of the analysts’ forecast range of 440-460 million pounds, given probable very depressed trading in clothing and home.

Reuters March 20, 2020 14:35:06 IST
Britain's Marks & Spencer warns of 'severe impact' from coronavirus outbreak; not to pay final dividend for 2019-20

London: British retailer Marks & Spencer said on Friday trading over the next 9-12 months in its clothing and homewares and international businesses was likely to be “severely impacted” by the coronavirus.

It will not pay a final dividend for its 2019-20 year and said it was unable to provide meaningful guidance on earnings for the 2020-21 year but reassured the post-crisis future of the business was strong.

Britains Marks  Spencer warns of severe impact from coronavirus outbreak not to pay final dividend for 201920

File image of Marks & Spencer. News18

“M&S has served customers without cease through two world wars, terrorist bombings and numerous local disasters and we are determined to support our customers now as we always do,” it said.

It said it was seeing substantial sales declines in its clothing and home business and has had to manage its costs accordingly but expected to be able to redeploy significant numbers of staff to support the food business.

Trading in its food business has so far remained strong.

M&S said pretax profit before one off items for the 2019-20 year could be at or below the bottom end of the analysts’ forecast range of 440-460 million pounds ($516-$540 million), given probable very depressed trading in clothing and home.

The firm said not paying a final dividend would save 130 million pounds.

Separately on Friday sporting goods retailer Frasers Group, formerly Sports Direct, warned it will not meet earnings guidance for 2019-20 as the virus will cause significant disruption to its business.

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