“Excellent” Christmas for Primark

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Primark revealed “excellent” Christmas trading today as the discount chain maintained its squeeze on struggling rival Marks & Spencer.

Sales for the Europe-wide business rose 14 per cent in the 16 weeks to January 4, driven by an eight per cent increase in selling space and more strong growth at stores which have been trading for more than year.

In contrast to the performances of Primark and rival Next, which has already posted a surge in sales, M&S’s general merchandise sales were down 2.1 per cent for the 13 weeks to December 28.

Its boss, Marc Bolland, blamed a vicious Christmas price war for the decline.

Primark, which has 161 of its 257 stores in the UK, is on course for further profits growth this year, on top of the 44 per cent jump in profits to £514m recently announced for the year to September.

Its owner, Associated British Foods, said that like-for-like growth already achieved and further store expansion meant Primark’s profit “will be well ahead of last year”.