The flagship Primark store in London is thought to have enjoyed the best day's trading in the discount fashion retailer's 40-year history on Saturday, boosted by a traffic-free shopping day in the West End.
The Oxford Street branch is understood to have taken more than £700,000, an increase of about 17 per cent on last year's record for the store on the same day in December 2008.
The chain, owned by Associated British Foods, is keen to find another outlet in the capital's most famous shopping street, because its existing store, which opened to a customer stampede in April 2007, is massively over-traded. It is believed to comfortably take more than £1.5m a week and rival retailers often speak enviously of its performance. Primark, which has 196 shops in the UK, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Portugal, has powered ahead in the recession. Its adjusted operating profits for the year to 12 September were up 8 per cent at £252m, driven by new shops and storming underlying sales. Total sales rose by 20 per cent to £2.31bn, despite the recession.
The London flagship has grabbed sales from M&S, Next and New Look brances on the other side of the road, although it has also increases footfall at that end of the street.
Primark's Oxford Street brown paper bags are becoming increasingly common in the area and the store has become a magnet for foreign tourists, who often stop to take photographs outside.
The New West End Company predicted that more than £200m went through the tills of retailers in central London on Saturday, as more than two million shoppers flocked to the three traffic-free miles of Oxford Street and Regent Street.
In September, Primark moved into a new era when its founder Arthur Ryan stepped down as managing director and handed over the day-to-day running of the company to Paul Marchant, who was promoted to chief executive. Mr Ryan, the driving force behind Primark since it first opened in Dublin in 1969, became chairman. In the year to 12 September, Primark opened 12 new branches, including four in the UK and its first outlets in the Netherlands, Germany and Portugal.
This financial year, the retailer plans to add at least 11 more stores. So far it has opened sites in Cambridge and Wood Green, north London, as well as Porto in Portugal, Frankfurt in Germany and Liège in Belgium.
Primark declined to comment on its sales performance yesterday.