FASHION retailer Penneys has continued to defy the economic slump, with sales at the business soaring 23pc in the past six months as the chain rolls out more stores in Europe.
Headquartered in Dublin, Penneys trades as Primark in other countries.
Its owner, UK-based Associated British Foods (ABF), said yesterday that sales at the chain were boosted by extra selling space as new stores and extensions to existing ones opened.
ABF told investors that the profits generated between September and this week will be higher than expected.
Like-for-like sales (sales at Primark and Penneys stores that have been open at least a year) also rose, climbing 7pc in the period. Cooler weather last autumn also helped to propel sales.
The Primark business, which now employs 50,000 people at 257 stores across Europe, had been spearheaded since the 1960s by legendary retail figure Arthur Ryan.
He grew the Penneys and Primark brands from their base in Dublin's Mary Street. He stepped down as managing director in 2009.
The chain has been the star performer for ABF in recent years. It accounted for 29pc of ABF's £12bn (€13.7bn) revenue during the last financial year.
But the pace of growth seen in the last six months isn't likely to be sustained this year, according to the group. That sent shares in ABF lower during trading in London yesterday.
It opened 15 new stores in the last six months, including a second on London's Oxford Street.
ABF is controlled by the Weston family, which also owns Selfridges and Brown Thomas in Ireland.