20/03/2020 - 10:30

Wesfarmers unable to quantify impact

20/03/2020 - 10:30

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Wesfarmers has disclosed that nearly every part of its business has been affected by COVID-19, with Bunnings and Officeworks doing better while Target is suffering.

Rob Scott says the group is taking measures to reduce the impacts of COVID-19. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Wesfarmers has disclosed that nearly every part of its business has been affected by COVID-19, with Bunnings and Officeworks doing better while Target is suffering.

In a detailed update released today, the retailer said it expected weak discretionary spending to continue, particularly on apparel, as panic buyers loaded up on essential cleaning and hygiene products.

Wesfarmers flagged a spike in online sales in recent weeks at its Bunnings and Officeworks stores, saying customers were also purchasing home office equipment, technology and education supplies.

The group said its industrial and safety businesses were also experiencing strong demand for essential protective clothing.

Wesfarmers said it expected this changed behaviour to continue, posing a risk on the outlook of sales across the group, but was unable to estimate the impact of COVID-19 on its full-year results.

It has, however, flagged extra operating costs for measures taken in response to the virus.

Managing director Rob Scott said Wesfarmers had implemented a series of health and safety measures, including restricted travel and meetings.

“These measures also include actions to protect the safety of our customers; with more intensive cleaning of stores and an increased focus on cashless transactions,” he said.

Wesfarmers recently extended paid leave to casual workers for shifts missed during periods of self-isolation.

The group said it maintained a robust balance sheet that was strengthened by the sale of its 4.9 per cent interest in Coles last month for around $1.1 billion.

Its shares were up 1.3 per cent to $35.34 at 12:55pm AEDT.

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