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French retailer Casino facing 'unprecedented demand' amid coronavirus pandemic

French grocery retailer Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA on March 26 said it is facing "unprecedented demand" due to the coronavirus pandemic but declined to provide financial guidance for full year 2020.

The news came as the company reported a sharp drop in earnings for full year 2019. Though it did not provide financial targets for 2020, the company said it is adapting its operating processes to meet customers' needs amid a surge in demand both in stores and for its collection and delivery services.

Casino's underlying diluted EPS for full year 2019 dropped 37.2% to €1.62 from €2.57 in the previous year. Net sales increased 0.9% to €34.65 billion from €34.33 billion but missed the S&P Global Market Intelligence mean consensus estimate of €35.94 billion.

Operating profit fell 5.3% to €1.29 billion from €1.36 billion. Net debt rose to €4.05 billion from €3.38 billion, in part due to the reorganization of its operations in Latin America. Net debt in its core French retail business fell to €2.28 billion from €2.72 billion.

In France, e-commerce accounted for 24% of sales in the fourth quarter of 2019, up from 18% in 2018.