30 April 2020 – final results
The company has released its results for the year to 7 March 2020 and these have revealed that underlying pre-tax profit was down 2% to £586m although the second half of the year saw an increase of 8% after a disappointing first half. Clearly, although these figures look satisfactory the effect of coronavirus on the business has led to increased sales in recent weeks due to panic buying of food and other essentials whilst the uncertainty caused by the pandemic means that any decision on a dividend will be delayed until later in the year. The company is set to benefit from £500m of rates relief following the latest moves by the government to help business in the wake of the pandemic although the company says that it will incur the same amount of additional costs this year as it has been forced to hire additional staff and pay those that are off sick or in isolation. At this stage the shares are a HOLD.