Primark delivers 'stunning' sales

Primark, the discount fashion retailer, has posted recession-defying sales in its second half, and vowed to press ahead with its store opening programme.

The Associated British Foods-owned retailer said that its full-year sales and profits would be substantially up on last year after the warm weather helped underlying sales to soar by 9 per cent in the six months to 12 September.

John Bason, the finance director of ABF, whose other brands include Twinings and Ovaltine, said: "Nine per cent – by any imagining that is fantastic trading." The buoyant update on Primark came as ABF said that group trading had been strong since the half-year, citing a much improved performance from its sugar business, and raised its full-year guidance for earnings per share. Its results for the year to 12 September are due to be announced on 3 November.

Panmure Gordon described the performance by Primark as "stunning" after the 191-store retailer said it expected full-year like-for-like sales to be up by 7 per cent, following the buoyant second half and a 5 per cent rise in the first half. Primark has been growing underlying sales for a number of years, but Mr Bason acknowledged that it had benefited from the flight to value during the downturn. "People are buying more value clothing ... the recession has accelerated those trends."

Primark now trades from 5.9 million square feet of selling space – up 9 per cent on last year – and Mr Bason said it plans to open about 10 stores next year, following the opening of 11 in the current financial year. "I would be disappointed if we can't better that number," Mr Bason said.

Primark has stores in Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Holland and Germany – plans to launch in Belgium, with a store in Liège, and Austria next year.

ABF said that Primark's profits for the year to 12 September will be "well ahead" of last year's adjusted operating profit of £233m. But it expects its operating profit margin to be lower, hit by increased fixed overhead costs of a new UK distribution centre and lower gross margins from the weakness of sterling against the dollar.

Mr Bason declined to comment on speculation that Primark's founder, Arthur Ryan, is poised to step down as managing director, but said "he is going to be around the business for some time to come".

While Mr Ryan, 74, is expected to remain as chairman, Paul Marchant, Primark's chief operating officer, is set to become its chief executive.

ABF said that profits at its sugar business would be "substantially ahead of last year", boosted by changes to the EU sugar regime that addressed an imbalance between supply and demand in the region. Its sugar business also benefited from the acquisition of Azucarera Ebro, the biggest sugar producer in Iberia, in April. Panmure Gordon upgraded its 2009 EPS forecast by 2 per cent.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
tv

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Recruitment Consultant - Soho - IT, Pharma, Public Sector

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000 first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

Sales Executive

£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week