The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has requested companies which were due to issue its preliminary trading updates in the next few days to delay publication, amid the ongoing disruptions caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus.
The FCA urged all listed companies to observe a moratorium on the publication of its preliminary financial figures for at least two weeks.
In a statement, the FCA said: “The unprecedented events of the last couple of weeks mean that the basis on which companies are reporting and planning is changing rapidly.
“It is important that due consideration is given by companies to these events in preparing their disclosures. Observing timetables set before this crisis arose may not give companies the necessary time to do this.”
It added: “In addition, listed companies and the audit profession are facing unprecedented practical challenges during the coronavirus crisis.
“The FCA believes the practice of issuing preliminary financial statements in advance of the full audited financial statements is adding unnecessarily to the pressure on companies and the audit profession at this moment.”
The news follows after many retailers have decided to follow government advice and closed its stores, such as department stores John Lewis, Selfridges, Harrods, fashion retailer Calvin Klein and Ikea.
The FCA said while the practice of issuing preliminary financial statements was “common among UK-listed companies”, it was not required by the Listing Rules or the Transparency Directive.
It advises companies must publish fully audited financial statements within four months of the end of the financial year.