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UPDATE 1-Steinhoff nine-month sales fall 6% as COVID-19 restrictions hit

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JOHANNESBURG, Aug 28 (Reuters) - South African retailer Steinhoff International Holdings on Friday reported a 6% decline in sales for the nine-months to June 30, due to COVID-19-related trading restrictions imposed worldwide.

Steinhoff, which is also listed in Frankfurt, said sales from continuing operations for the period fell to 6.8 billion euros ($8.08 billion) from 7.2 billion euros in the same period the previous year.

The retailer said while almost all of its stores had reopened by the end of June, a significant amount of trade had been lost while they were closed.

“Since lockdown restrictions began to be lifted from early May, revenues are trending back to, and in some cases above, pre-COVID-19 levels,” the retailer said,

Its cash position from operations at the end of the period was better than what it had estimated at the beginning of the pandemic.

Sales at Pepkor Holdings, a majority-owned subsidiary based in South Africa, fell 10% while sales of furniture retailer Conforama and Greenlit Brands, a household goods retailer and manufacturer in Australia and New Zealand, declined 18% and 1% respectively.

Pepco Group, another subsidiary which owns British discount retailer Poundland, was the only retailer to lift sales by 2% as revenue recovered when restrictions were eased.

Steinhoff said Poundland continued to reduce its property costs by renegotiating 100 store leases during the period.

Plans to possibly list its Australian Fantastic Group retailer remain in the early stages, with no definitive decision taken yet, the retailer said.

In July the company proposed to pay around $1 billion to settle outstanding claims from shareholders who lost money when the company revealed holes in its accounts in 2017, totalling over 9 billion euros. ($1 = 0.8411 euros) (Reporting by Nqobile Dludla Editing by Promit Mukherjee, Kirsten Donovan)

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