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
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

Laura Norton: Project Accountant

£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine