June 15, 2020 / 8:08 AM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Bunzl sees 6% revenue jump as customers stockpile amid pandemic

(Adds shares, analyst comment, detail)

June 15 (Reuters) - British business supplies distributor Bunzl on Monday forecast a 6% rise in revenue for the first half of the year as customers stockpiled its face masks, gloves and sanitisers during the coronavirus crisis.

Shares in the FTSE 100 firm, which have jumped sharply since hitting their seven-year lows in March, gained 6% in early trade as it also estimated a modest increase in its operating margin.

The company said demand for the products it makes for the grocery, safety and healthcare sectors jumped in the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bunzl, however, said it does not expect the significant increase in volume for COVID-19-related products to continue into the second half as customers have stockpiled enough products for the rest of the year.

The company added that it intends to repay employee-related government support packages and bring forward its tax deferral payments as a result of the better-than-expected trading performance.

Investment firm Exane BNP Paribas estimates the furlough package to total about 5 million pounds ($6.24 million) to 10 million pounds.

Bunzl has not disclosed the number of employees it has furloughed and declined to comment on the details.

$1 = 0.8011 pounds Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni

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