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Associated British Foods Sees £375m Loss Of Sales From Lockdowns

Associated British Foods, the owner of clothing retailer Primark, said it estimated it would lose £375 million (€416.6 million) of sales from temporary closures of its stores in major markets due to COVID-19 restrictions.

As of Monday, all Primark stores in Ireland, France, Belgium, Wales, Catalonia in Spain and Slovenia are temporarily closed, representing 19% of its total retail selling space.

It said assuming the UK government's intention to close non-essential shops in England for one month from 5 November to 2 December is passed by lawmakers, 57% of its total selling space will be temporarily closed from 5 November.

Primark, which does not have an online operation, had been trading strongly after its stores reopened after lockdown in the spring, achieving record market share in August and early September.

The company said it was implementing operational plans developed to manage the consequences of the latest closures, including reducing operating costs.

Continued Uncertainty

'Trading hours are also restricted in a number of other markets. Uncertainty about further temporary store closures in the short-term remains,' it said.

'We are implementing the operational plans developed to manage the consequences of these closures and appropriate action will be taken to reduce operating costs. All orders placed with our suppliers will be honoured.'

The recovery it had seen in demand prompted the company to upgrade its forecast for profit for the chain in the year to September 12, which it will publish on Tuesday.

It said adjusted operating profit for Primark would be above its previous range of £300 million to £350 million, down from £913 million the previous year.

News by Reuters, edited by ESM. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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