Primark sales jump despite rain and Olympics

Primark, the discount fashion chain owned by Associate British Food (ABF), said its sales growth had accelerated since May, despite torrential rain in June and the distraction for consumers of the Olympic Games.

A record year for its sugar-production business and expected like-for-like sales growth of 3 per cent at Primark for the 52 weeks to 15 September helped the conglomerate boast that its full-year operating profits will be "substantially" ahead of last year.

John Bason, the finance director at ABF, which also owns Twinings tea and Ovaltine drink brands, said: "Primark powered through the Olympics. There was no pull back in our performance across the UK as a whole."

However, he admitted sales at its flagship London store, by Marble Arch at the end of Oxford Street, had been affected by lower footfall during the two-weeks of the Games.

The fashion chain, which has stores in Spain, Germany and the Netherlands, will open a huge, 80,000 square foot store at the other end of Oxford Street close to Tottenham Court Road tube station on 20 September.

Total sales, including new stores, at Primark are forecast to be higher by 17 per cent this financial year, with lower cotton prices helping its margins to recover during the second half.

ABF's sugar production was up by 30 per cent in the UK this year, but the torrential rain this summer means that next year's volumes will be lower.