Primark growth accelerates

City A.M. Reporter
DISCOUNT fashion retailer Primark saw its third-quarter growth accelerate, helped by good weather and the attraction of its low prices in a downturn, but its owner Associated British Foods held to its flat year earnings forecast.<br /><br />The 190-strong stores division reported its sales rose 21 per cent in the 16-week quarter to 20 June, and its like-for-like sales growth was above the five per cent of its first half, with its house broker putting the growth at seven to eight per cent.<br /><br />&ldquo;We are hitting the right spot with the consumer, trading has picked up and the weather has been good. Like-for-like sales have improved from the first half,&rdquo; AB Foods finance director John Bason said yesterday after a third-quarter update.<br /><br />The London-based food and retailing company, 55 per cent owned by the family of chief executive George Weston, said its third-quarter group sales rose 15 per cent helped by growth at Primark and also its sugar and grocery operations.<br /><br />Although the group, which markets Silver Spoon sugar, stuck to its forecast of flat earnings for the current year to September 2009, Bason was more upbeat for the following financial year. &ldquo;Next year there are grounds for optimism, particularly in sugar and also in grocery while Primark&rsquo;s momentum will continue,&rdquo; Bason said.<br /><br />Analyst Graham Jones of house broker Panmure Gordon said Primark&rsquo;s growth was better for the third quarter than its first-half performance.