Shares in FTSE 100 Associated British Foods (LON:ABF) slipped 4.05% to 1,905p (as of 11:40 BST) as group revenues improved by 2% for the 24 weeks ended 29th February. However, statutory profits fell by 38% for the period and more than 68,000 employees across Europe are currently furloughed. Management said that they expect to be able to mitigate half of the costs of keeping its Primark stores closed, but the timing of reopening branches remains uncertain.
CEO George Weston commented: “The group delivered an encouraging trading performance in the first half. The rapid spread of COVID-19 has impacted all of our lives and the human tragedy that continues to unfold has shocked and saddened us all. We are a strong, diversified and resilient group. Our people are working hard to maintain supply from our food businesses. Primark is managing through an extraordinarily challenging period after all of its stores closed in March and our management response to mitigate the cash outflows was swift and proportionate. Although uncertainty remains, we have the people and the cash resources to meet the challenges ahead“.