Luxury brand Burberry warned that sales in the final weeks of March would plunge by around 70% to 80% compared to last year, as coronavirus caused shops to shut and demand for luxury goods to dry up. 

Burberry said it expected sales at comparable retail stores in the final weeks of its financial year to 28 March to be down between 70% and 80%, and as a result it expected overall fourth quarter sales to be 30% lower. 

The forecast for March showed that the impact of coronavirus was intensifying, with sales dropping off further from a level of being down 40% to 50% over the last six weeks. 

The company, famed for its trench coats and check scarves, did not provide profit guidance, but said it remained confident in its strategy and was ready to respond to any recovery in luxury demand. 

It said it had £600m of cash and a £300m revolving credit facility, and was working to cut costs to help maintain a strong financial position. 

"We are implementing mitigating actions to contain costs and protect our financial position, including renegotiating rents, restricting travel and reducing discretionary spending," Burberry said in a statement. 

Burberry had in February already warned about the impact of coronavirus on its business, as Chinese spending globally accounts for 40% of its retail sales.

It said that closed shops in China at that time plus fewer Chinese tourists abroad also hit sales. 

But trading in China has started to improve in recent weeks, Burberry said, as its shops there had started to reopen.