Page last updated at 09:22 GMT, Monday, 7 September 2009 10:22 UK

Primark continues to defy gloom

Primark store
Primark became known for cheap clothes, well before the downturn

The owner of discount clothes shop Primark has upped its annual profit forecast as the chain continues to defy much of the retail gloom.

Improved demand pushed sales up by 9% in the past six months at Primark stores that have been open for at least a year said its parent firm, AB Foods.

This year Primark has opened its first outlets in Germany and Portugal, and also opened a branch in Barcelona.

Its growth comes amid declines at High street rivals such as Next and H&M.

The chain had benefitted from a move towards buying cheaper clothes, said AB Foods Finance Director John Bason, reporting strong sales of footwear and summer dresses.

"There's a real change in people's shopping habits, and certainly among ... 20 to 30 year old females, it's a change for good," he told Reuters.

Shares in AB Foods, which also owns Silver Spoon sugar, Twining tea and Ovaltine drinks, climbed by almost 6%.

Besides Primark, its growth was also driven by a big profit rises at the its sugar and agriculture divisions.

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