Profits up at Primark despite downturn


Profits up at Primark despite downturn
Budget retailer Primark has beaten the high street downturn with a 22 per cent increase in operating profit to £111 million.

An increase in retail selling space following the purchase of several former Littlewoods stores helped drive profits.

In a statement, owner Associated British Foods (ABF) said: "Revenues over Christmas were ahead of our expectations and against a background of tough trading for UK clothing retailers we achieved a four per cent increase in like-for-like sales for the first half.

"We are very encouraged by the performance of our stores in Spain which have already achieved sales densities ahead of the average for the UK and Ireland."

Latest UK market share data shows Primark now has over ten per cent of the market by volume ranking it the second largest clothing retailer.

ABF posted group pre-tax profits of £282 million, a five per cent increase from the previous year. All divisions were ahead of last year, apart from British Sugar, which was hit by new European regulations.

Overall profit was also hurt by the sale of property, plant and equipment.

Chief executive George Weston said: "These good results demonstrate the group remains on track with strong growth from grocery, ingredients and agriculture and another excellent performance from Primark.

"The development of our businesses continued apace, most notably with further substantial investment in sugar and expansion at Primark."

Profits for the company's sugar division fell sharply as the EU cut the subsidies it pays to sugar producers in 2007, following pressure from the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Adverse weather conditions also affected sugar profits, ABF said, as summer floods in the UK ruined crops.

However, agriculture revenue climbed to £396 million over the year, compared to £322 million in 2007 as commodity prices soared.

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