March 11, 2020 / 6:35 PM / 24 days ago

French Maisons Du Monde mulls closing stores in Italy over virus spread

PARIS (Reuters) - French furniture and home decor company Maisons Du Monde (MDM.PA) said on Wednesday it could close all its 48 stores for at least one week in Italy where authorities have launched multi-billion-dollar war chests to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Italy is the European country most affected by the disease with 12,462 cases and 827 deaths so far and the World Health Organization now sees the virus outbreak as a pandemic.

Maisons Du Monde also said that the coronavirus outbreak would weight on sales in the first half of the year as the company expects lower revenues in the second quarter.

Asked about the coronavirus epidemic impact, Maisons Du Monde chief executive Julie Walbaum told a news conference call that it was not possible at this time to give a reasonably accurate full year forecast for its 2020 sales and earnings.

The group has implemented a stringent cost cutting program in order to protect profit and cash generation.

“This is a very special year. We are going to do everything we can to limit the impact on Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization)”, Walbaum said.

Maisons Du Monde reported that sales increased by 10.3 percent last year to 1.23 billion euros (1.08 billion pounds).

Reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic; Writing by Matthieu Protard; Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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