Another storming performance from the value fashion chain Primark saw Associated British Food tell investors that profits for the half year that ends on Saturday will be "substantially ahead of last year".
Sales at Primark rose 25 per cent overall, and by 7 per cent from shops which have been open at least a year. The half saw strong Christmas sales and the opening of 15 stores, including a second store on London's Oxford Street.
John Bason, the finance director, said he did not want investors to get over-excited, adding: "We are going to carry on growing Primark well, but not at that rate. What people will see in the first half is better operating margins.
"There will be fewer new stores opened in the second half but that will pick up again in 2014."
Although the first half will beat City forecasts, ABF said the full-year outcome was likely to remain in line with analysts' expectations.
Profits from the sugar business were down in the first six months, but agriculture profits should rise. Grocery revenues were flat but, without restructuring charges seen last year, profits will be higher.
ABF's shares, which have run up sharply this year, fell 15p to 1,815p.