March 17, 2020 / 10:02 AM / 18 days ago

UPDATE 1-Shoe Zone shares dive on dividend hold as virus hits store footfall

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March 17 (Reuters) - Shoe Zone’s shares slumped 27% on Tuesday after the footwear retailer deferred its full-year dividend payment to conserve cash flow, as footfall across its stores fell in recent days due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The company, which owns 500 stores and employs around 3,500 people across the UK and Ireland, has been battling challenging trading conditions on the UK high street. It had warned of closing around 100 stores last month, according to media reports.

“Whilst the full extent of the coronavirus on the short and medium term retail environment is not yet clear, it is becoming ever more apparent that it will create significant disruption to people’s lives and shopping habits in the coming months,” the company said.

Shoe Zone’s board is expected to propose cancelling the company’s 2019 dividend of 8 pence per share at its annual general meeting in April.

More than one in four people in Britain put off going shopping or visiting busy places last month due to the coronavirus pandemic and stormy weather, according to a survey by Barclaycard.

Shares in the company were down to 74.85 pence. (Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Vinay Dwivedi)

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