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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 January 2008, 18:09 GMT
Primark enjoys strong Christmas
Primark store
Primark's sales performance beat expectations

The owner of budget clothes retailer Primark has said the chain enjoyed better-than-expected Christmas sales.

Associated British Foods said total sales at Primark in the 16 weeks to 5 January were up 26% on a year ago, with "strong" like-for-like sales growth.

The increase helped AB Foods, which also owns Silver Spoon sugar, Twinings tea and Kingsmill bread, to report a 13% rise in revenue across the group.

Shares in AB Foods surged on the news, ending the day up 8% at 838p.

Away from the Primark business, AB Foods said revenues at its agricultural businesses were up 20%, while grocery revenue climbed 15%.

Sugar revenues were down 12%, which the company said was largely because the equivalent period the year before had benefited from an early shipment of UK export sales.

AB Foods also said UK sugar profits would be lower than the previous year because of a combination of cuts in EU support prices, higher energy costs and a smaller crop.

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