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Coronavirus

Steinhoff's First-Half Loss More Than Doubles To $1.7bn

South African retailer Steinhoff International Holdings saw its first-half loss more than double as a coronavirus lockdown towards the end of the period weighed on sales.

The company's loss for the six months ended 31 March widened to €1.5 billion ($1.8 billion) from €571 million in the same period last year.

It reported a small rise in sales to €6.2 billion from €6.1 billion a year earlier, held back by fewer stores and shoppers.

Impact Of COVID-19

The COVID-19 lockdown had an impact on the group's retail businesses from mid March.

"As a result, turnover reduced, particularly in general merchandise, for the duration of these restrictions. The performance of the group's fast-moving consumer goods-focused businesses has been more resilient, partially offsetting this impact," the retailer said in its 85-page half-year results report.

Steinhoff said trading after lockdown restrictions were eased had been better than expected thanks to pent-up demand, but it was unclear whether this would be was sustained.

Apart from dealing with the pandemic, the retailer, which is also listed in Frankfurt, is trying to settle about 90 legal claims from shareholders who lost money when the company revealed holes in its accounts in 2017.

On Monday, the company proposed to pay around $1 billion to settle outstanding claims totalling over 9 billion euros ($10.6 billion).

The group's net debt remains high - at €9.7 billion in the first half, up from €9.6 billion last year.

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

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