Primark sales growth offsets slump in sugar profits at ABF

Primark owner Associated British Foods (ABF) has reported a jump in revenue for the financial year so far, on the back of a rise in sales for the value fashion retailer.

ABF said like-for-like group revenues for the 40 weeks to June 22 rose by 2% compared with the same period a year earlier.

It was buoyed by 4% sales growth in its Primark retail business, driven by increased store numbers of the period.

Primark’s impressive sales growth in the first half of the year “continued into the third quarter” and it increased its market share.

The sales performance was affected by “unseasonable weather in May”, but it regained ground during a strong June period.

Sales growth at Primark and ABF’s ingredients business helped to offset a decline in the performance of its large sugar arm.

It said the company saw like-for-like sales growth of 4%, excluding its sugar division.

The company also said that it saw a slump in profits for the sugar business during the first half of the year, which it expects to continue through 2019.

Meanwhile, Primark is expected to deliver “good profit growth” during the year, as well as ABF’s grocery business, it added.

It held firm on its full-year profit and revenue outlook, saying that it expects adjusted earnings per share to be line with last year’s performance.

Third-quarter revenues for the sugar division are in line with same quarter last year, improving on first-half decline due to higher sales from its African sugar business, Illovo.

ABF has been hit by a tightening of EU stock levels over the past year and expects sugar production quotas to remain low for the next year.

ABF’s grocery arm reported 1% sales growth for the quarter, with strong performances in its Twining Ovaltine and AB World Foods arms.

The grocery business announced earlier this month that around 180 jobs are at risk at its struggling Allied Bakeries business after the Kingsmill bread-maker revealed plans to stop production in Cardiff.