Primark owner hails ‘excellent’ Christmas sales

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Discount fashion chain Primark enjoyed a 12 per cent jump in sales over the key festive season, parent group Associated British Foods (ABF) announced today.

The “excellent” performance, driven by an 8 per cent increase in selling space, helped to offset a 27 per cent slump in ABF’s sugar sales amid a fall in world prices.

Sales at the group’s grocery division, which includes brands such as Ovaltine and Twinings, edged up 2 per cent in the 16 weeks to 4 January.

Primark opened 14 stores during the first quarter period, including its first in France, and now has 268 outlets. ABF said it plans to add a further four French stores this year, along with two in Germany and three in the UK.

Although trading during the early part of the quarter was held back by unseasonably warm weather and tough comparisons with the previous year’s strong performance, ABF said: “The second half of the period was characterised by excellent Christmas trading with very strong like-for-like growth.”

Full-year profits at Primark are expected to be “well ahead” of last year, ABF added, although overall group profits will be broadly flat.