Mar 20, 2020
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Frasers Group hit by plunging footfall, withdraws guidance

Mar 20, 2020

Frasers Group became the latest UK retailer to issue a coronavirus statement on Friday and while it was shorter than some updates that other retailers have shared, it laid bare the uncertainty that the pandemic is causing at the moment.

Photo: Courtesy of Flannels, Theo Tzia

The company said it’s “too early to estimate what the full impact from COVID-19 will be on the company's performance for the current financial year ending 26 April, and future periods,” but it’s expecting “significant disruption to its business”.

That view is based on lower customer footfall and means that its earlier guidance of EBITDA growth in a range from 5% to 15% won't now be met. Again, like many of its retail peers, the extreme uncertainty out there at the moment means it's not replacing that guidance with any new figures.

The company said that before the impact of the coronavirus started to be felt, its year-to-date performance had been in line with expectations. Unfortunately, it didn't share what those expectations were.

However, it added that the company “has a strong management team, which can adapt and respond quickly to challenges and changing market conditions [and] remains confident in focusing on the elevation strategy”.

The firm owns a mixed bag of retail chains that will understandably have been affected by plummeting footfall. While House of Fraser is likely to have struggled, as might its more upscale operations such as Flannels, there has been speculation that the Sports Direct change could benefit from certain changes in lifestyle.

With fewer consumers able to get out to the gym, home workout equipment, and the kind of clothing and footwear that solitary joggers need, could see a mini boom.

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