ABF aims to reign in Spain with Primark

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Primark, the discount retailer owned by Associated British Foods, is targeting Spanish shoppers as part of a big expansion push outlined yesterday.

Primark, the discount retailer owned by Associated British Foods, is targeting Spanish shoppers as part of a big expansion push outlined yesterday.

ABF plans to open up to 10 shops in Spain, starting with two in Madrid next summer. The move reflects its struggle to find suitable high street sites in the UK and Ireland, where it has been forced to focus on expanding existing square footage rather than its 120-store estate.

Peter Jackson, the chief executive, said: "We would like to be able to grow the number of shops [in the UK] but there is a finite number of sites." Instead, he hopes to expand Primark's space by 10 per cent - 230,000 sq ft - this year on top of the 10 per cent new space it added last year. It opened just four new stores last year, but expanded eight - creating its biggest store in Manchester, which trades on two floors. "We are not in Leeds or Liverpool, and that's just the main cities beginning with L," Mr Jackson said.

The news of Primark's expansion came as ABF beat City forecasts with a 10 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £494m. Turnover climbed 5 per cent to £5.2bn. ABF's shares, which have soared by one-quarter this year, rose 0.5p to 715p. The total dividend rose 12 per cent to 16.4p, taking the payout for the Weston family, which owns the majority of the shares, to some £70m.

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