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UPDATE 1-Galeries Lafayette CEO says coronavirus crisis could halve 2020 revenue

(Adds details, comments on Black Friday)

PARIS, Nov 20 (Reuters) - French high-end department store chain Galeries Lafayette expects the coronavirus pandemic to halve its revenue this year, and fears foreign tourist flows may not regain pre-crisis levels before 2024, its chief executive said on Friday.

“This year our revenue will be cut in half. 2020 will be difficult for our results, 2021 also. We should return to break-even in 2022,” CEO Nicolas Houze told BFM Business radio.

Retailers, especially those who depend heavily on tourists, have been hit hard by government-enforced lockdowns to curb the virus and restrictions on international travel.

Foreign tourists account for more than 60% of the customers of the group’s flagship Haussmann store in central Paris.

“The scenario which seems the most realistic is one that has foreign tourists return from the last quarter of 2021, but this would be at 30% below what it was in 2019. There will not be a return to pre-crisis traffic before 2024,” Houze said.

Galeries Lafayette, which has had to endure two lockdowns to rein in coronavirus infections in France this year, backs postponing “Black Friday” discount shopping sales to Dec. 4 if in return stores can reopen soon, he added.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire had called on retailers to postpone Black Friday, which runs from Nov. 27 to Nov. 29, as shops selling non-essential goods have to remain closed during a lockdown slated to last until Dec.1.

“What is key is being able to open our stores. If this means delaying Black Friday, there is no discussion... If we can reopen from Nov. 27 or Nov. 28, it’s excellent news,” he said.

Le Maire is due to meet retailers on Friday at 1400 GMT to finalise a possible agreement on a one-week Black Friday delay. Online retail giant Amazon, which has seen sales surge under lockdown, has joined France’s Carrefour, Europe’s biggest retailer, and French retailer Leclerc in agreeing to the delay. (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Jason Neely and Jan Harvey)

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