Primark hails ‘outstanding’ winter

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PRIMARK delivered more forecast-busting sales figures today after an “outstanding” performance over the winter.

Despite austerity impacting on many European markets, its owner Associated British Foods said Primark’s sales for the six months to March 2 were expected to be 23 per cent ahead of the same period last year.

It increased selling space by 13 per cent over the last year, giving it 257 stores across Europe and almost nine million sq.ft of selling space. However, when stripping out changes in store space, sales were up 7 per cent on a year earlier.

This reflected good trading over the Christmas period, when jumpers and all-in-one pyjamas sold well, as well as comparisons with the warm autumn a year earlier.

Margins were also “much higher” due to the benefit of lower cotton prices and the better trading performance.

AB Foods, which is also the owner of British Sugar as well as household brands Kingsmill, Ryvita and Twinings, said half-year results in April will be ahead of the company’s expectations in September.

It added: “Adjusted operating profit will be higher than last year driven by an outstanding performance from Primark.”

The better-than-expected showing for Primark is in contrast to rival Marks & Spencer, which according to leaked industry figures at the weekend has continued to lose market share in fashion.

Primark said the pace of new store openings will slow in the remainder of the financial year before picking up again in the following year. Its plans for this year include the completion of extensions to its Newcastle and Manchester stores.