WH Smith (SMWH) was forced to go cap in hand to its shareholders this week to raise emergency cash amid dire warnings over the impact coronavirus was having on current trading.

After consulting with shareholders on Monday, the retailer announced on Monday evening it had raised £166m with the placement of new shares to shore up its balance sheet under heavy pressure from the coronavirus crisis.

A trading statement accompanying the raise said group revenue in March had slumped by 25% year on year and was getting worse. Even though its 203 post offices and 140 stores located in hospitals remain open – having agreed a supply partnership with Sainsbury’s last week to support NHS workers – overall sales were down 85% in the week to 4 April, due to swathes of enforced store closures.

The company expects revenue in April to be down by approximately £114m (90% year on year), with a reduction in operating profit of approximately £39m compared with last year as 95% of its store estate remains closed with only gradual reopenings.

Despite the grim temporary forecast, shareholders backed the emergency cash raise, with 1050p per share offer only marginally discounted from its overnight closing share price of 1094p before the raise. WH Smith was also able to secure a £120m package of new bank financing arrangements to further strengthen the balance sheet.

Retail analyst Nick Bubb said the 80%-plus fall in revenue for the rest of the financial year “will have savage bottom-line implications, despite robust cost cutting measures.”

He added: “The City’s appetite for the placing was tested by the accompanying news that the company will not be paying an interim dividend… But investors were unabashed.”

Hargreaves Lansdown’s Sophie Lund-Yates said the raise was notable as it showed “it’s possible for retailers to receive backing, even in these torrid economic times”.

WH Smith shares have slumped by almost 58% so far in 2020, but they jumped 8.3% on Monday on news of the placing to 1,094p and up a further 10% on Wednesday to 1,206p.

Elsewhere, on Wednesday Irn-Bru maker AG Barr (BAG) reported a 17.3% slump in annual pre-exceptional profits and warned of a “material” impact on trading from the coronavirus outbreak.

The soft drinks maker said poor summer weather and Brexit uncertainty created a “challenging trading environment” which resulted in a “difficult” year, particularly for its core UK soft drinks business. Reported net sales for the year to 25 January dropped 8.4% to £255.7m.

The soft drinks producer said the spread of the coronavirus would have a “material adverse impact” on the group’s financial performance this year as the UK lockdown has “significantly reduced” sales to its “impulse customers”.

House broker Shore Capital said improved momentum towards the end of its year before being derailed by the virus was “encouraging”.

It added: “Whilst Covid-19 has clearly reversed the return to positive momentum in the short term, we believe AG Barr is a strong business with a distinctive stable of leading brands and a highly experienced, responsible and effective management team.”

AG Barr fell 1.2% on Wednesday to 503p after the release of the delayed results, but it is only 12.2% down so far this year after a recent rally.