Primark reported first-half like-for-like sales growth of 8%, coming in ahead of the expectations of parent company Associated British Foods (ABF).

The value fashion chain said its strong performance during the six months to February 27 was also driven by new store openings and the success of its 14 stores in Spain.

Primark said that an undisclosed reduction in gross margins in the first quarter, due to the higher cost of product sourced in dollars, was offset by the strengthening of the pound coupled with higher volumes in the second quarter.

Panmure Gordon analyst Graham Jones said Primark’s performance stood out among the rest of the ABF portfolio.

Jones said: “Like-for-like sales growth was 8% in the half, and as our estimate was 7% like-for-like growth for the first 16 weeks, this suggests a further acceleration in growth. We forecast 18% sales growth for the half including new space.”

Primark has 196 shops selling from 6.1 million sq ft and will open another six outlets in the second half, three of which will be in Spain.