The coronavirus pandemic significantly affects daily lives as well as the economies across Europe. Many countries have implemented tight measures to curb the spread of the virus. Fielmann complies with the requirements of all relevant authorities, follows the recommendations of the Robert Koch Institute and implements additional measures to protect its customers and its employees.
In the recent days, national and regional authorities have ordered Fielmann to close down its shops in Italy, Austria and Slovenia as well as a few stores in Poland. On 20 March 2020, Fielmann will also temporarily shut down its regular operations of stores in Germany and Switzerland. By implementing this measure, Fielmann contributes to the slowdown of the virus. At the same time, we fulfil our statutory obligations in Germany and Switzerland through an emergency service that supports, in particular, critical professions, such as doctors, medical staff, police, fire service, food supply etc.. This emergency service is available at limited opening hours during which we take additional precautions. We will temporarily stop the regular sale of eyewear, contact lenses and hearing systems. Our subscription and e-commerce services will continue to serve our contact lens customers. Further information is available at www.fielmann.de.
The closure of our stores evidently leads to significant business risk. The duration and extent of our store closures is currently not foreseeable. The further development is highly dependent on political decisions and their effectiveness in containing the spread of the coronavirus. During these times of crisis, Fielmann - being a family business - stands behind its employees. In Germany and Switzerland, we have given all our opticians and hearing aid acousticians a job guarantee. We voluntarily supplement the available Kurzarbeitergeld (public relief funds available in Germany and Switzerland) so that all store employees continue to receive 100% of their income during these difficult times. In all other countries, preparations to safeguard our employees` jobs are ongoing.
As further restrictions of public life and commerce are imminent during the next few weeks, this may have a significant negative impact on our unit sales, sales and profits. The extent of this impact cannot be determined at this point. The same applies to any forecast for the financial development during the next few months or the whole year.
As a family business with solid finances, Fielmann is however confident to master this crisis from a position of strength. We will continue to successfully implement our Vision 2025.
Hamburg, 19 March 2020
The Management Board