Primark sales rose 4% over the festive period but like-for-likes fell slightly.

The “modest” decline was mitigated by increased selling space, which led to an increase in market share. It beat a weak fashion market once again after cautioning that it, along with the rest of retail, found November challenging.

The fashion retailer managed to boost its operating profit margin during the 16 weeks to January 5 and profit was “well ahead” of the previous year. This was due to purchases having been made at a weaker US dollar exchange rate than the previous year and through better buying and tight stock management.

Full-year operating profit is expected to be in line with expectations.

European and American sales were both strong, with European sales up 5% at constant currency. Primark’s parent company ABF said growth was “especially strong” in France, Belgium and Italy and that its performance “strengthened” in Spain, its second-largest market, but that soft trading continued in a difficult German market.

In the US, sales were “well ahead” and benefited from “very strong” trading at its Brooklyn store, which opened in July 2018.

Primark has added 300,000 sq ft of selling space over the current financial year with its 364 stores comprising 15.1 million sq ft as of January 5. It opened four new stores over the period in Seville, Almeria, Toulouse and Berlin.

It expects to open another 600,000 sq ft during this financial year with a greater presence in New Jersey, Birmingham and Slovenia.