Burberry boss says it will ‘take time to heal’ after virus hammers sales

The boss of Burberry has warned it will take time for the luxury fashion brand to “heal” from the impact of coronavirus after it caused sales to tumble.

Burberry said total sales slid by 27% in the three months to March after 60% of its stores were forced to shut their doors.

“It will take time to heal but we are encouraged by our strong rebound in some parts of Asia and are well-prepared to navigate through this period,” said chief executive officer, Marco Gobbetti.

The fashion firm said it saw “strong momentum”, with sales ahead of expectations, before the virus impacted retailers.

It said it has taken a €269 million hit as a result of the pandemic, including €76 million related to stock.

Mr Gobbetti added: “Now, more than ever, our strategy to secure our position in luxury fashion is key.

“We have taken swift action to mitigate the financial impact on our business, while prioritising the safety and wellbeing of our teams and customers.

“We have a strong balance sheet and liquidity, with space for investment when markets recover.”

The update came as the firm revealed that pre-tax profits for the year to March fell by 62% to €188 million.

Helal Miah, investment research analyst at The Share Centre, said: “It has been a turbulent year for Burberry mainly due to external factors.

“While it handled the disturbances from the Hong Kong protests well, there was no way of skipping around the Covid-19 outbreak which first hit the Far East, one of its most important markets.

“Despite a dividend cut, investors have now priced this in as now the norm and some encouragement will be taken from the most recent update on trading activity in the Far East where April sales are ahead of the prior year.”

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