- Luxury watch retailer Watches of Switzerland warned of lower-than-expected sales, having shuttered its stores in the wake of the spreading coronavirus.

The company said it would shut its UK stores on Monday and had already shut its US stores last Thursday.

Revenue for the year through 26 April was seen at between £809m and £812m, the company said, without providing a comparable figure.

Last year, it posted revenue of £773.5m.

Revenue for the six weeks to 15 March had risen 17% on-year, beating expectations, while like-for-like sales had risen 12%, though sales have since fallen sharply as the store closures bite.

Watches of Switzerland said it had taken steps to eliminate discretionary expenditure, reduce working capital and where possible, delay capital projects.

It said it had a 'strong' balance sheet, of 1.2 times adjusted net debt-to-EBITDA as at 15 March, and 'significant financial headroom and liquidity'.

'Our priority is the health and wellbeing of our colleagues and customers during these unprecedented times,' chief executive Brian Duffy said.

'We are taking the necessary steps to mitigate and minimise the impact of this crisis on our business.'

'We are anticipating a continuation of the store closures into our new financial year, which begins on 27 April 2020.'

'We remain confident in the strong fundamentals that underpin the luxury watch category including its great value preservation.'

'Demand remains strong and we anticipate that this will be the case when the market returns to more normal conditions.'

'Longer term, we are well positioned to deliver on our plans to leverage our leading position in the UK and become a leader in the US luxury watch market.'

'I would like to extend my respect and gratitude to our teams in the UK and in the US who, as ever, have been resilient, resourceful and positive throughout this period.'

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