Group sales at Penney’s owner Associated British Foods (ABP) increased 4pc year-on-year in constant currency in the 16 weeks to 6 January.
he performance was driving by increased sales in the company’s Primark clothing chain, with Primark achieving record sales in the week before Christmas.
Sales at Primark were up 9pc year-on-year in constant currency, according to a trading update from ABP.
The UK market continued to perform well with strong like-for-like retail sales.
However the retail sales growth across Europe was held back by unseasonably warm weather in October.
Meanwhile the group said that retail trading in the US "has continued to make progress."
The group provided no actual figures for the various markets in its trading update.
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The company expects its operating margins for the first half of its financial year to be close to those in the same period last year, with better buying offsetting the adverse effect of the weaker sterling / US dollar exchange rate on purchases.
Since the company’s financial year end, it retail selling space has increased by 300,000 sq. ft. and at 6 January, the company had 350 stores trading from 14.2 million sq ft, which compared to 13.1 million sq ft a year ago.
Elsewhere there was a 13pc decline in revenue from its sugar division, driven by significantly lower EU sugar prices, which adversely affected the company’s UK and Spanish businesses.
Meanwhile the group said that the reduction in the US federal tax rate, applicable from the beginning of this calendar year, will reduce the group’s effective tax rate for this financial year by some 100 basis points.
Looking forwards, the group said that its outlook was unchanged, with progress expected in adjusted operating profit and adjusted earnings for the full year.