The increase has been driven by store openings and a 4 per cent rise in like-for-like sales, which strip out the effect of new selling space.
ABF said: “Like-for-like sales in the first eight weeks of the financial year were held back by unseasonably warm weather and strong comparatives in the previous year, but the rest of the period saw excellent trading including the Christmas period.”
However, the group warned that sales and profits at its sugar operations will be “substantially” lower than last year because of a faster-than-expected fall in EU sugar prices.
At ABF’s grocery business, which owns brands such as Ovaltine and Twinings, profits are expected to be well ahead of a year earlier thanks to an improvement in margins.
Results for the six months to 1 March are due to be published on 23 April.