Page last updated at 09:01 GMT, Tuesday, 21 April 2009 10:01 UK

Sales up at 'first class' Primark

Primark store
Sales are still growing at Primark

Discount UK fashion retailer Primark has reported another "first class" rise in sales, as its low prices continue to attract consumers, its owner has said.

Like-for-like sales, which exclude new openings, at the chain increased 5% in the six months to 28 February, said owner Associated British Foods (ABF).

The performance helped ABF report a pre-tax profit of £275m for the same period, down just 2% from a year ago.

This was a better result than had been expected by analysts.

'Reassuring results'

ABF, which also owns Silver Spoon sugar, Twinings Tea and Kingsmill bread, said the strong performance of Primark offset continuing weakness in its grocery business, specifically in the US.

This is a reassuring set of results achieved in a difficult economic environment
George Weston, ABF chief executive

Sales of ABF's Mazola cooking oil fell in the US because of its higher price compared with supermarket own-brand alternatives. The firm said it had not been able to cut the price of Mazola because it had locked itself into highly-priced long-term contracts with suppliers.

But ABF said Primark continued to see a "first class performance", with half-year operating profits at the chain up 10% to £122m.

Operating profits at ABF's grocery division fell to £62m from £88m.

"This is a reassuring set of results achieved in a difficult economic environment," said ABF chief executive George Weston.

ABF said it would now be sticking to its expectations of flat profits for the year to the end of September.



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