March 4, 2020 / 11:00 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Jeweller Pandora closes 30 shops in Italy due to coronavirus

(Updates with comment, background, detail)

COPENHAGEN, March 4 (Reuters) - Jeweller Pandora has shut 30 of its 148 shops in Italy due to the coronavirus outbreak, while it has reopened most shops in China albeit with slow store traffic, the company’s chief executive said on Wednesday.

Italy, which is battling to contain the biggest outbreak of the virus in Europe, is Pandora’s third largest single market after the United States and Britain.

Pandora had closed more than 100 of its 237 shops in mainland China, the world’s biggest luxury goods market which together with Hong Kong account for about 10% of the company’s annual sales, but currently only 32 remained shut.

“On a normal day, we would have shy of 200 customers come through a store in China. During the worst period of February, we only had around 15 customers through the stores that remained open,” CEO Alexander Lacik told Reuters in an interview.

The daily number of customers in Chinese shops have not yet returned to normal, as “this will take some time”, he said.

The crisis is a threat to the Danish company’s efforts to revive its fortunes after, according to analysts, a lack of innovation and overstretching itself at the top and bottom of the market have kept both shoppers and investors at bay.

In the decade to 2017, Pandora’s sales increased more than 10-fold as it found a niche between cheaper accessories in stores such as H&M and more expensive jewellery on offer from the likes of Tiffany & Co..

Lacik said that Pandora’s e-commerce business in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan had performed “reasonably well” during the virus outbreak.

For now, Pandora sticks with the guidance it gave last month of a 3%-6% decline in 2020 sales and operating profit margin of above 23%.

“But it’s fair to say that if China continues to perform as during the past month, it will impact our 2020 guidance,” Lacik said. (Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Jan Harvey and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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