OLDHAM-based toy firm Character Group which specialises in ranges like Peppa Pig and Stretch says it has restored temporary disruption to its Far East supply operations caused by the coronavirus crisis.

The company, headquartered in Lees Road, said with most factories in China now reporting a return to near-normal production capabilities, orders for direct shipments from the Far East to international distributors and customers in the UK are being processed.

A trading update issued yesterday on the London Stock Exchange said: "The demand side of the business, particularly in the UK, is being deeply impacted by closures of non-essential stores, shops and warehousing and distribution centres, albeit that some online retailer customers continue to place a modest level of orders."

It said the Board was anticipating a significant drop in revenue the second half of the current financial year compared to current market expectations, which will inevitably impact profitability the full year.

It went on: "But, without knowing for how long closures will last or how soon usual retail footfall levels will return, it is too early to assess the quantum of this impact."

The group has a strong balance sheet and is debt-free, with a substantial cash balance and considerable unutilised working capital facilities.

The premises from which Character operates in the UK are freehold properties owned by the group and are, therefore, free from rent liabilities. In addition, the company has taken measures to reduce costs, wherever it can.

It is now anticipated that the group's interim results for the six months ended February 29 will be issued during the last week of May and, in the the board plans to provide an update at that time.