Primark owner Associated British Foods has reported that sales at the fashion chain were 13% ahead of last year at constant currency mainly driven by an increase in retail selling space of 9%.
In the 52 weeks to 12 September, like-for-like sales were 1% ahead year-on-year reflecting a strong performance across a number of countries. ABF said very high sales densities were achieved by stores opened in the last 18 months especially in France, which is the chain’s most successful new market entry to date
Like-for-like sales in the early part of the financial year were impacted by the unseasonably warm autumn but this was followed by strong trading across the Christmas period. Spring trading was also held back, this time by cool weather, although there was a recovery in the fourth quarter.
Adjusted operating profit was £673 million compared to £662 million in the previous year.
George Weston, ABF chief executive, said: “Like-for-like sales growth was good at 1% albeit held back by the effects of a strong store opening programme in the Netherlands and Germany. Following Primark’s exceptional trading last year, we saw a return to a more normal level of markdowns this year and margin was lower as a result.”
During the year, Primark opened almost one million square feet of selling space bringing the total estate to 293 stores and 11.2 million square feet at the financial year end. Some 20 new stores were opened including relocations to larger premises in Northampton and Murcia, Spain.
The new stores also included 77,000 square feet at Downtown Crossing in Boston, Primark’s first store in the US, which opened on 10 September. ABF is planning to open a further seven Primark stores in the US, most of which will launch later next year.