Primark fuels sales growth at Associated British Food

PRIMARK growth has helped to fuel a predicted “substantial rise in profits” at parent company Associated British Food.

The London-based group said in a trading update it expected a jump in half-year earnings and a strong full year.

Its 196-strong discount chain Primark saw an 8 per cent rise in sales – with stores in Spain performing particularly well.

Finance director Jason Bason said: “Primark’s momentum is improving, it’s an amazing performance especially since January and February were hit by terrible weather in the UK and the current retail environment.”

AB food shares hit a high of £9.51 – the highest since May 2007 – after the announcement.

Five new Primarks were opened in the first half and it expects to unveil a further six in its second half – three each in Britain and Spain.

It has also has bought 10 Bhs stores in Britain to be refitted and opened in its next financial year.

Bason said the grocery division performance was improving as the economy improved.

The group which also markets Ovaltine drinks and Kingsmill bread will announce its half-year results on 27 February and its full-year on 20 April.

Panmure Gordon analyst Analyst Graham Jones said: “We believe ABF offers an attractive combination of defensive earnings and strong profits growth.”