Kingfisher (KGF.L), the owner of one of the most well-known UK DIY chains B&Q, confirmed that it has closed all of the 221 stores that it owns in France amid the escalation of the coronavirus pandemic hitting the country.
The group’s Castorama and Brico Depot stores will be closed until 14 April this year, in line with government advice on coronavirus. Its 28 stores in Spain are also shut until 29 March.
"We are committed to supporting local authorities and governments to limit the spread of the virus, and the health and safety of our colleagues and customers remains our top priority. Our teams are also evaluating the best ways to satisfy emergency needs in our markets, particularly for electricity, heating and plumbing,” said Thierry Garnier, CEO of Kingfisher in a statement.
"While significant uncertainty exists around the impact of COVID-19, we are taking immediate and significant measures to contain our costs and protect our financial position. We have a strong balance sheet, with significant liquidity headroom and limited financial debt.
The coronavirus has now infected more than 156,000 people across the world and killed at least 5,833. On 15 March, France’s Public Health Authority (PHA) reported the biggest daily increase in coronavirus deaths. The total deaths in France is now 127, up 36 from the last report. The PHA also said that there has been an increase of more than 1,000 cases, taking the number of cases to 5,423.
Kingfisher shares are down over 12% in early trading: