| 5.8°C Dublin

Penneys sales hit ABF

sales at discount clothes shop Penneys may cut into group profits, according to parent company Associated British Foods (ABF).

ABF, the owner of Primark which trades as Penneys in Ireland, attributed its strong performance to the group's clothing retail store, but warned about a fall back in the figures here.

The group said that overall sales were "substantially ahead" of last year and anticipates an increase in profits right across its other divisions.

ABF said last month that while sales at the Primark chain had been strong across all regions, the recession was hitting Penneys.

"The one note of caution I'd put out there would probably be around Primark," said ABF finance director John Bason.

The group, which is controlled by the Weston family who own Brown Thomas and Selfridges, said Christmas sales were ahead of expectations.

"Primark's momentum is improving; it's an amazing performance especially since January and February were hit by terrible weather in the UK and the current retail environment," Mr Bason said.

Sales at the clothing chain rose 8pc at outlets open at least a year.

The company trades from 196 stores in Britain, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Portugal and Belgium.

Analysts said that Primark is the key component of ABF's empire, which also comprises Twinings tea, Ryvita, Ovaltine and Silver Spoon sugar.