Friday 26 May 2017

Primark profits from Brexit-hit sterling as sales at retail giant jump by over a fifth

Primark in Oxford Street, London Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire
Primark in Oxford Street, London Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Ben Woods

Primark owner Associated British Foods (ABF) said sales at the retailer have jumped by more than fifth thanks to a boost from the Brexit-hit pound.

The fashion retailer saw sales at actual exchange rates leap 22pc compared with last year as it also benefited from a 16pc increase in selling space in the 16 weeks to January 7.

Like-for-like sales for the period were good and market share had stepped up, but group like-for-like sales were pegged back by a drop-off in Germany and the Netherlands.

ABF group revenues rose 22pc as the company enjoyed a fillip from sterling's weakness following Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

On currency, the firm said its operating profit margin would decline throughout the year as it grapples with the impact of the strong US dollar on input costs.

ABF was also riding high on the back of a "substantial increase in profit" for its sugar business after higher sugar prices bolstered production in Africa.

Revenues at AB Sugar at actual exchange rates were up 38pc on last year and climbed 22pc at constant exchange rates.

It added: "With 2016/17 forecast to be a second year of global sugar deficit, world prices are much higher than last year."

The group also cheered strong sales from its Twinings tea business on the back of good performances in the UK, America and Australia, while Ovaltine "performed well" in Asia.

Liberum analyst Robert Waldschmidt said he expects a "strong rebound" in full-year group profits in 2017, as the sugar business recovers and Primark continues it store roll-out programme.

"We estimate Primark can double sales and profits over the next five years," he added.

Primark trades under the brand name Penneys in Ireland, with the first store opening in 1969 in Dublin.

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