Primark success sweetens sales for AB Foods

Marion Dakers

ASSOCIATED British Foods yesterday posted a nine per cent jump in sales for the 40 weeks to 22 June as expansion at Primark, its budget fashion chain, made up for slower sugar and grocery sales.

Group revenues growth slowed in the last four months to eight per cent, though the firm said in an interim management statement that trading is in line with expectations.

At Primark, which opened its second Oxford Street shop last September, sales rose 22 per cent in the 40-week period.

The retailer aims to ramp up its new store launches in the new financial year, including its first outlet in France.

The grocery arm, which includes Twinings Ovaltine and Allied Bakeries among its businesses, posted a three per cent increase in revenues, rising to seven per cent in the last 16 weeks.

Sugar revenues fell 15 per cent in the 16-week period, which the firm put down to the timing of shipments from Zambia and the cold weather in Britain delaying planting. Revenues rose one per cent over 40 weeks, AB Foods added.

“I think the UK is pointing in the right direction,” AB Foods finance director John Bason said.

“I think the UK consumer remains careful; but for the right things, the UK consumer is spending. Our view is that it’s not getting worse.”

Shares in AB Foods, which have risen 41 per cent in a year, were up 7.4 per cent in early trading, and closed five per cent higher at 1,907p.