March 4, 2020 / 10:53 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Myer Holdings' first-half profit slumps 37%, flags coronavirus impact

(Add details about first-half sales, coronavirus impact)

March 5 (Reuters) - Australian department store operator Myer Holdings Ltd posted a 37% fall in half-year profit on Thursday, hurt by the removal of Apple products and Country Road Group brands from its stores, and said the impact of the coronavirus outbreak remains "uncertain".

Profit fell to A$24.4 million ($16.17 million) for the half-year ended Dec. 31 from A$38.4 million a year earlier.

Early last year, Myer said it would stop selling "unprofitable" Apple products as part of its drive to focus on higher-margin items.

Total sales were A$1.61 billion, about 4% lower than a year earlier, which were also impacted by "disappointing performance" in the womenswear segment.

Myer said it is managing the supply chain impact due to the coronavirus outbreak, focusing on mitigating the effects of delays to the planned delivery of merchandise.

"Myer anticipates the challenging macro environment will continue in the second half, and the ongoing impact of the coronavirus on store traffic remains uncertain," said CEO John King.

The once struggling 120-year-old firm has undergone a major turnaround in the last two years as it cut costs, ditched low-margin brands and store space, and pivoted more toward online shopping. ($1 = 1.5094 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan and Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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