Primark owner's share price drops as like-for-like sales in doubt

Helen Cahill
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Retail Results Demonstrate The Changes On The High Street
The company only said that like-for-like sales were "good" (Source: Getty)

Associated British Food's (ABF) share price fell three per cent in morning trading as the Primark owner gave the market few details on its like-for-like sales growth.

The figures

In its first quarter trading update, ABF said Primark's sales were up 11 per cent at constant currency and that "the UK performed well". However, the business has also been expanding, opening 15 new stores in the period - but ABF did not state its like-for-like sales, saying only that the figure was "good".

In addition, the company said like-for-like sales fell in Germany and the Netherlands.

Read more: Primark Owner ABF shoots to top of FTSE 100 as full-year revenues rise

The group's sugar business performed strongly, with revenue growing 22 per cent on the year before.

Why it's interesting

Nicholas Hyett, analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "There's relatively little commentary on the US (which is where a lot of the growth story is based in the long run) and looking at the new retail space opened it looks like most of Primark's increased sales growth has come from new stores rather than like-for-like sales growth."

UBS analysts said Primark's like-for-like sales were probably between zero and one per cent, with like-for-likes in the UK around two per cent.

What Associated British Foods said

"In the UK, production is projected to be just under 900,000 tonnes as a result of a smaller beet crop and yields marginally lower than last year," ABF said.

"Sales are now largely contracted for this year and with higher prices, lower beet costs and a weaker sterling/euro exchange rate, British Sugar's full year operating result will improve substantially."

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