STRONGER-THAN-EXPECTED sales at the Primark and Penneys chains have sent profits at the chain’s parent company higher than expected.
Profits in the retail arm of Association British Foods, which encompasses Primark and its Irish brand Penneys, rocketed by 55 per cent – jumping from £154 million to £238 million (€279 million) for the first half of the 2012-2013 financial year.
Sales at the chain grew by 23.6 per cent, to just under £2 billion.
“The Primark success story continues,” ABP company chairman Charles Sinclair said in a trading update to shareholders today.
“Trading in the period was very strong, the profit margin was much improved, customers in continental Europe have taken enthusiastically to the Primark brand and there is very real momentum in the addition of selling space,” he added.
The group said Primark’s performance was “exceptional” during a difficult time on many high streets around Europe.
He said the enthusiasm of shoppers to the Primark brand meant that heavy investment in the chain would continue. Among those investments would be the opening of the first Primark stores in France.
Sinclair said Primark’s strong growth would continue for the rest of the year, though not at the same level as the first half of the company’s trading year, when cotton prices had been particularly low.
Overall group revenue at Associated British Foods plc grew by 10 per cent to £6.333 billion (€7.423 billion), leaving adjusted profits up by 20 per cent.
Shares in ABP trading in London were up by 5 per cent following the news.