As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Handicare is taking a number of measures to adapt its operations to the currently assessed consequences and thus further ensure long-term financial stability. This entails, among other things, necessary capacity adjustments as well as general and substantial cost reductions. The pandemic has different impact on Handicare's various business units. On Group level there is a decline in sales from mid-March, but it is mainly Business Area Accessibility that is adversely affected by a decline in demand, while demand within Patient Handling is stable only with a slight delay of certain projects. The current development is expected to continue during the second quarter.
The infection prevention measures, in particular the isolation of elderly and other vulnerable people, primarily affect the Accessibility business area, which has noticed a slowdown since mid-March. Social distancing and isolation make it difficult to sell and install stair lifts. We work intensively to develop alternative sales and delivery models providing safe conditions for both employees and end customers.
For Patient Handling demand is stable with a slight delay of certain projects. Patient Handling North America has a large installation business with fixed lifting devices for hospitals and healthcare facilities. A number of these projects have been postponed. When it comes to mobile patient lifts and transfer products in North America, the demand situation is significantly better. For other operations within Patient Handling, we assess demand to remain stable regarding products for home health care, transfer and mobility in homes and institutions. Home health care is an important solution for keeping the elderly healthy and to ensure that those who can remain at home also do so. Home care helps to relieve the health care system in the current situation.
The long-term economic effects of Covid-19 are difficult to assess. The fast and sharp slowdown in the economy should be balanced against enormous stimulus measures from the world's central banks and governments. However, we expect the demographically driven demand for Handicare's products to remain strong and that the current crisis creates some pent-up demand.
In the short term, some business units' sales will be negatively impacted and Handicare has already taken a number of cost-cutting measures. In addition, we have today decided to implement selective lay-off measures to adapt staffing to the market situation prevailing in the respective business units. We look at various government support available for each market and in doing so we may for a period reduce our running costs without losing competent employees and partners. These measures are necessary but will be implemented so we are able to quickly scale up operations when demand returns.
The financial impact of these measures is continuously evaluated, but Handicare has a strong financial position and liquidity. During the current and coming quarter, we expect lower sales and lower profitability compared to the corresponding periods last year.
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