Primark sales jump 25%
Associated British Foods said performance at its Primark clothing chain was Â“outstandingÂ” in the 16 weeks to 5 January as total sales rose by 25%.
The increase was driven by “very strong” like-for-like sales growth which benefited from buoyant trading over the Christmas period and a comparison with weak sales during the unseasonably warm autumn of 2011.
Primark has increased its retail selling space by 1.1 million sq ft since this time last year taking the total number of stores at 5 January to 256.
The retailer opened 14 new stores in the period: six in Spain, four in the UK, one each in Germany and the Netherlands and the first two stores in Austria. It also opened a second store in London’s Oxford Street and relocated its Sunderland store to a larger site.
Primark said the rate of store openings would now slow but expects it to pick up again in the next financial year. The retailer plans to add a further 200,000 sq ft of selling space this year which includes a new store in Frankfurt and extensions to its Newcastle and Manchester stores.
Operating profit margin was higher than in the same period last year, reflecting stronger trading and lower cotton prices.
ABS, whose brands include Twinings Tea and Silver Spoon Sugar, saw its group revenue increase by 10% compared to the previous year.
The company said in a statement: "To date trading for the group was ahead of our expectations driven by the outstanding performance from Primark, with the rest of the group performing in line. As previously indicated, the full year result for AB Sugar is expected to be lower than last year but we anticipate that this will be more than offset by growth at Primark and some recovery in Grocery.
"In light of the group's current performance we now expect to make further progress in adjusted operating profit for the full year, with the improvement heavily weighted towards the first half."
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