Primark hails 'outstanding' winter


Primark has delivered more forecast-busting sales figures 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% ahead of the same period last year.

It increased selling space by 13% 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% 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.

High Street casualties

High Street casualties