Page last updated at 10:27 GMT, Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Primark sales defy retail gloom

Primark store
Sales are still growing at Primark

Discount fashion chain Primark has reported rising annual sales, despite the slowdown in consumer spending.

Primark's like-for-like sales - which strip out the impact of new stores - were up 4% in the year to 13 September.

The chain's performance helped Primark's parent company, Associated British Foods (ABF), to report a 3% rise in annual profits to 632m.

Operating profits at Primark rose 17% to 233m. The chain operates 181 stores in the UK, Ireland and Spain.

ABF said that it planned to open 12 new Primark stores in the coming year; four in the UK, one in Ireland and seven in Spain.

The company added that its grocery division - which includes brands such as Twinings tea and Ryvita crispbread - had seen operating profits rise 27% to 194m.

However, profits at its sugar division fell to 155m from 199m a year ago as a result of reforms to the EU sugar sector.

ABF said next year's earnings were expected to be little-changed because of higher interest costs.

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