Penneys owner reports 'modest decline' in sales
Associated British Foods (ABF), the group behind Penneys and Primark, has reported a "modest decline" in like-for-like sales in the four months to January 5 2019.
However its overall sales were up 4pc as a result of the group opening more shops.
Group revenue from continuing operations for the 16 weeks was 2pc ahead of the same period last year at constant currency, while sales from continuing operations at actual exchange rates were 1pc ahead.
ABF said the UK market performed well, and its share of the clothing market there "increased significantly". Sales in the UK were 1pc ahead of last year for the period, in a market which declined year-on-year. Like-for-like sales in September and October were ahead, however reduced footfall affected sales in November.
Meanwhile sales over the Christmas trading period "exceeded expectations".
Looking at the Eurozone, and sales were 5pc ahead of last year at constant currency. Sales growth was especially strong again in France, Belgium and Italy, but soft trading continued in a difficult German market, the group said.
ABF added that it was "pleased" its US performance during the period.
Sales in the group’s grocery division, which includes Twinings, were 2pc ahead of last year at actual exchange rates , while operating profit margins on an underlying basis improved.
In its sugar business the group reported what it said was an "expected" reduction in revenue.
Meanwhile the group maintained its full-year earnings guidance.