Primark and Sports Direct to deliver updates to City on trading

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TWO retail success stories – Primark and Sports Direct – will present figures to the City this week.

Sports Direct International will deliver a pre-close trading statement tomorrow after a choppy period for shares following majority owner Mike Ashley’s surprise move to sell some of his stock in the company.

The decision by the Newcastle United owner to reduce his stake from 61.7 per cent to 57.7 per cent raised £204m, but took markets by surprise and sent the price tumbling.

It came days after a shareholder revolt forced the company to scrap a scheme that could have rewarded Mr Ashley with a shares windfall potentially worth more than £70m.

He has not received a salary or bonus since the group floated in 2007.

The shares have since recovered some of their value, after analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch issued an optimistic note on the potential for online sales growth and expansion into Europe.

A note from Jefferies said: “Sports Direct is part of a select stable of UK retailers enjoying remarkable international growth prospects.”

Primark owner Associated British Foods will also publish half-year results tomorrow in the wake of recent pressure on shares from its sugar business.

The group said in an update earlier this year that its discount fashion chain enjoyed “excellent” Christmas trading.

Primark’s European sales rose 14 per cent in the 16 weeks to January 4, driven by an eight per cent increase in selling space and more strong improvement at stores which have been trading for more than a year.