Primark sales surge on European success

Primark has shrugged off the wet weather and economic downturn in Europe to post sales growth ahead of its rivals, such as Marks & Spencer, in its third quarter.

The discount fashion chain owned by Associated British Foods (ABF), the sugar production-to-grocery brands conglomerate, also said it will open a huge new store by Tottenham Court Road Tube station earlier than expected, towards the end of September.

Primark delivered total revenues up by 13 per cent over the 16 weeks to 23 June, boosted by four new stores in Spain. Analysts forecast it had grown like-for-like sales by 2 per cent in the UK and Europe, which compares favourably with Marks & Spencer this week posting a 6.8 per cent fall in UK underlying clothing and homewares sales in its first quarter.

John Bason, finance director of ABF, said: "Primark has got the most fantastic top line growth," although he conceded that its sales had been weak during the "cold and wet" April in the UK and Ireland.

He added it enjoyed its "best ever" first day of trading at its new store in Berlin, Germany, on Wednesday, surpassing the opening of its first store on Oxford Street in 2007 that sparked a scrum among consumers.

ABF grew group sales by 13 per cent, driven by a surge in revenues at its sugar division, which benefited from higher prices and increased production volumes. While its grocery revenues were flat, the unit benefited from strong sales of the Twinings Ovaltine hot drink in developing markets.