March 18, 2020 / 11:40 PM / 14 days ago

Finnish retailers Kesko, Stockmann warn on 2020 due virus

* Kesko sees 2020 adj EBIT at 400-450 mln eur

* Kesko scraps 2020 sales guidance

* Stockmann scraps 2020 profit guidance

By Tarmo Virki

March 18 (Reuters) - Finnish retailers Kesko and Stockmann warned on Wednesday they will not reach their forecasts they had issued just last month as the Nordic country is closing down this week to battle against spreading of coronavirus.

Kesko, which operates 1,800 stores in Finland and neighbouring countries, warned late on Wednesday its 2020 profits would be weaker than it forecast last month, and scrapped its sales outlook for the year.

It had earlier forecast a rise in 2020 sales and also in comparable operating profit.

“Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus and global economic uncertainty, we estimate that we will fall somewhat short of the record operating profit of 461.6 million euros ($504 million) recorded in 2019,” Kesko Chief Executive Mikko Helander said in a statement.

Kesko said it now sees comparable operating profit for continuing operations in 2020 at 400-450 million euros.

“We believe that consumer demand for food will remain good despite the exceptional circumstances,” Helander said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Kesko’s smaller peer, Stockmann pulled its Feb. 13 forecast for a clear improvement in operating profit from the last year, and said it will issue a guidance when visibility is clearer.

“Stockmann expects that the coronavirus outbreak and numerous restrictions and special regulations imposed as a result of this outbreak will considerably decrease the volume of our business operations and profitability,” it said. ($1 = 0.9167 euros) (Reporting by Tarmo Virki in Tallinn; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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