Shoppers queue to enter a Sainsbury’s supermarket in West LondonMore

LONDON (Reuters) – British supermarket group Sainsbury’s estimated a hit of 500 million pounds ($623 million) from the costs of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and said it would defer any dividend payment decisions until later in the financial year.

Sainsbury’s, No 2 to market leader Tesco, said on Thursday that under its base case scenario the hit to costs would be broadly offset by stronger grocery sales and approximately 450 million pounds in business rates relief.

That would mean group underlying profit before tax for the year to March 2021 would be broadly unchanged from the 586 million pounds reported for the 2019-20 year.

(Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Paul Sandle)