Primark plans expansion with more stores and first move online

Fashion chain to open 11 outlets over the next year

The discount fashion retailer Primark is looking at selling clothing online as it continues an expansion drive that helped its profits and sales soar this year.

News of Primark's online ambitions came as its owner, Associated British Foods – whose other brands include Kingsmill bread and Ovaltine drinks – posted a six per cent fall in full-year, pre-tax profits to £495m.

John Bason, the finance director of ABF, said: "We would love to have lots more stores and online, but it depends on resources. The priority is more stores." His comments are likely to cause the most concern at Asos, the online fashion specialist, although many of the UK's biggest fashion retailers, including Marks & Spencer, Asda and Tesco already sell clothes online.

Primark, which has 191 stores in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany and Portugal, delivered adjusted operating profits up by eight per cent to £252m for the year to 12 September, driven by new stores and storming underlying sales. Total sales rose by 20 per cent to £2.31bn, despite the recessionary environment.

Mr Bason described as "exceptionally good" the nine per cent uplift in Primark's like-for-likes sales in the second half. In particular, he cited strong sales of womenswear, footwear, accessories and childrenswear products, as it showed its rivals a clean pair of heels.

Marks & Spencer, which posts half-year results today, has already said its like-for-like sales of general merchandise, primarily clothing, fell 0.8 per cent for the 13 weeks to 26 September. Also today, Next will unveil its third-quarter figures and Shore Capital has raised the "possibility" of positive underlying sales.

Primark opened 12 stores over the year, including four in the UK and its first stores in the Netherlands, Germany and Portugal. This financial year, the retailer plans to open 11, including its first store in Belgium. Mr Bason said it had looked at taking a 100,000 sq ft store in Cardiff's new St David's shopping centre, but had not yet decided whether to proceed.

ABF made an adjusted profit before tax and exceptionals of £655m, up four per cent, over the year. Profits rose at ABF's sugar and agriculture, and ingredients divisions, but fell at its grocery business, after it took a hit on vegetable oil future contracts in the US in the first half. It plans to close its Twinings tea-packing factory with the loss of about 260 jobs in Newcastle, as well as cutting 130 jobs at its Andover plant in Hampshire due to investments in automated packaging equipment. ABF, which has net debt of £999m, said group revenues rose by 12 per cent to £9.3bn.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own