Primark leads the pack
Associated British Foods revealed that group profits were in line with expectations, including a strong performance from value fashion chain Primark, but growth in operating profit would be weighted to the second half.

The update came in a trading statement ahead of the company's half-year results for the period to March 3, which are due to be announced on April 24.

Sales and profits at Primark - which contribute about a third of group profits - were substantially ahead of last year. The company said that extensive store openings in the first half were successful. There are now 161 Primark stores are now trading and a further eight are to open in the second half.

Like-for-like sales at the discount chain remained flat in the first half, but the estimate for like-for-like growth in stores unaffected by openings is 4 per cent. The company added that trading in the new stores was encouraging.