- Alcoholic drinks maker Diageo pulled its guidance and said it would halt its share buyback programme as government measures worldwide to contain the virus had impacted performance across its markets, including in the U.S., Europe, India and Africa.

The company said it would withdraw its guidance on group organic net sales growth and organic operating profit growth for fiscal 2020, citing a lack of visibility over the duration and severity of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company also said it would not initiate the next phase of the three-year £4.5bn buyback programme for the remainder of fiscal 2020 after completing the first phase of £1.25bn.

In North America, where the on-trade channel accounted for approximately 20% of US Spirits' net sales, most States closed bars and restaurants in March. In Europe, most countries had shuttered on-trade premises, which accounts for 50% of Europe net sales, the company said.

But in both the US and Europe there had been some pick-up in the off-trade channel (retail stores) in recent weeks, although it was unclear whether this will be sustained, the company added.

In India, a nationwide lockdown had closed the on and off-trade channels, as well as production facilities across most industries, including United Spirits' supply operations, for an initial period of three weeks until 14 April 2020.

To an effort to preserve cash, Diageo said it was reducing discretionary expenditure and reallocating resources across the group and stopping A&P spend.

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