March 12, 2020 / 7:07 AM / 20 days ago

UPDATE 1-Airport retailer Dufry trims jobs as coronavirus drags down sales

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ZURICH, March 12 (Reuters) - Swiss travel retail group Dufry is cutting jobs and guiding for a single-digit decrease in organic sales this year as the coronavirus pandemic that prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to ban air travel from Europe hits its business.

Dufry, whose shares have fallen more than 50% this year, is taking measures to protect cash flow generation, drive sales and safeguard profitability, the company said, including job cuts and rent renegotiations it expects to generate savings of 60 million Swiss francs ($64.18 million) this year.

"We do not anticipate any liquidity problems during the crises," Dufry said in a statement on Thursday.

Dufry, which has over 2,400 shops at airports, cruise lines, train stations and other tourist shopping locations said organic growth contracted 3.8% through March 8, after a 7.3% drop in February.

The Basel-based company, with net debt of 3.1 billion francs at the end of December, said it expected to reach negative mid-single digit organic growth in 2020 "provided that the situation improves in the second semester".

"Currently it's still challenging to estimate the impact for the full year," it said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) called the coronavirus outbreak a "pandemic" on Wednesday and the Trump Administration imposed sweeping restrictions on travel from Europe.

$1 = 0.9348 Swiss francs Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz, editing by John Miller

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