Metro said that its sales have developed 'very positively' in recent weeks, leading the wholesale giant to issue an improved outlook for its full-year 2019/20.
The group anticipates total sales and like-for-like sales to decline between 3.5% and 5% for the full year, while EBITDA is expected to be down by between €200 million and €250 million.
Like-for-like sales in its Western Europe arm were down by a third in its most recent quarter, it added.
In the first nine months of the year, the group saw sales down 5.0%, while EBITDA was down €192 million.
It noted that Russia and Eastern Europe have shown a 'significant' improvement in both sales and EBITDA, however this has been offset by a 'weaker than group average' performance in Western Europe and Asia.
In the third quarter specifically, like-for-like sales were down 17.5%, with Germany down 9.5%, Eastern Europe down 7.4%, Asia down 19.2% and Western Europe down by 32.8%.
Total sales for the quarter were €5.57 billion, while adjusted EBITDA was €175 million.
It said that as the fourth quarter has begun, group sales have 'recovered further', driven by the improvement of the HoReCa business as restaurants and bars come back on stream.
As a result of the turnaround in performance, sales in July are on a par with the same month the previous year, it added, and thus the group expects fourth-quarter sales to be roughly in line with those in 2019.
"Metro's sales have developed very positively in recent weeks and give us sufficient visibility to provide a new outlook," commented chief executive Olaf Koch.
"The sales trend is driven by freelancers and independent retailers, but sales to restaurateurs are also approaching the prior-year level. Decisive for this positive development are, on the one hand, the easing measures adopted by the governments and, on the other hand, that Metro has proven to be very robust during the crisis with its channel mix and customer structure."
Koch added that both HoReCa customers and traders are benefiting from the group's range of digital and e-commerce services, as well as high levels of product availability, as they get back on track.
Metro said that its full-year outlook is based on the assumption that the negative impacts of the COVID-19 impact 'will not surge again' in the group's core markets, and that the stable recovery of the HoReCa channel continues.
© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine