Monday 16 March 2020 12:02 pm

Primark owner shares halted after virus sales warning

Shares in Primark owner Associated British Foods (ABF) were suspended for an hour this morning after the firm warned store closures would hit sales.

The retail conglomerate’s shares were halted after falling sharply, which the London Stock Exchange said was due to an erroneous trade.

Read more: Coronavirus: Primark owner ABF warns of long-term supply issues

Shares were down roughly 12.5 per cent when trading was resumed.

In a first-half trading update ABF said 20 per cent of its retail space was now closed due to government measures in France, Spain and Austria to limit the spread of coronavirus.

The budget retailer said these stores accounted for 30 per cent of its sales, and the company had expected revenue of £190m from them over the next four weeks.

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It said the remainder of its locations, including the UK which represents 41 per cent of sales, had suffered like-for-like sales declines over the last two weeks.

These drops have accelerated over the last few days due to reduced football, the company said.

“We are managing the business appropriately but do not expect to significantly mitigate the effect of the contribution lost from these sales,” it said in a statement.

This is a breaking news story. More follows.