Primark’s like-for-likes increased 1% and adjusted operating profits edged up 2% for the year. This is what the analysts had to say.
“The outlook for the full-year to 2016 is lacklustre. Foreign exchange will impact transaction costs in Sugar and Primark, and together with the translation effect, will hold back profits next year.
“Continental Europe is now 36% of Primark’s total square footage, and there has been some worrying cannibalisation of existing stores associated with new store openings in this region recently. The company announced that it will expand Primark into Italy next year with a store outside Milan.
“It remains unclear to us whether the US expansion of Primark will be a success. We suspect cracking this market will be difficult given tougher local competition than the brand encounters in Europe and the fact that the brand is unfamiliar to US consumers.” – Alicia Forry, Cannacord
“Margins were down 80 basis points to 12.6%, reflecting both higher markdowns in the full-year to 2015 and, to some extent, the effects of a stronger dollar on sourcing costs in the final weeks of 2015.
“The company, however, stresses that more than half of the theoretical dollar headwind on costs has been offset. Primark will add around 10% space in Europe, a pace which we feel is sustainable in the midterm.
“Trading was “strong” in the fourth quarter, with a lesser impact from new stores’ cannibalisation in Germany and the Netherlands towards year-end.” – Florence Dohan, Barclays
“Considerable expansion in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands resulted in marginal like-for-like growth at constant exchange rates of 1%, as international customers chose to shop more locally, causing sales in existing stores to decline.
“As the retailer continues to invest in international diversification, it endures the risk of substantial movement in currency markets, subjecting the retailer to negative transactional and translational currency exposures – a major challenge that Primark faced this financial year.
“However, Primark believes a high proportion of this potential impact has been mitigated in-house by taking a shrewd approach to buying new season merchandise for next year.
“Unseasonably warm Autumn 2014 impacted sales in the early part of the trading year, spring 2015 trading was also held back by cool weather. However, a strong Christmas in 2014 limited the impact of these challenging trading periods on its overall performance for the financial year.” – Rebecca Marks, Conlumino
“Today’s final results for the year from the conglomerate Associated British Foods (ABF) are dominated by its Primark subsidiary, but mighty Primark doesn’t look to have been in such good form over the last year, with operating profits up by “only” 2% to £673m, on the back of 8% sales growth to £5.35bn.
“ABF blame the fall in Primark’s impressive operating margin from 13.4% to 12.6% on the fact that trading was exceptionally good in the previous year and that stock mark-downs returned to more normal levels.” – Nick Bubb, independent analyst