Primark has recorded Christmas sales up 12% and expects its profit to be well ahead of last year, and margin higher than expected.

For the 16 weeks to January 4, Primark sales were up 12% at constant currency or, with the benefit of a stronger euro, up 14% on the same period last year at actual rates.

The value fashion retailer said its performance was driven by an 8% increase in selling space, strong like-for-like growth and higher sales densities from new stores.

Primark said trading in the year to date has built upon the “exceptional” like-for-like growth delivered in the same period last year. It said that, although like-for-likes in the first eight weeks were held back by the unseasonably warm weather and strong comparatives, the second half of the period was characterised by “excellent Christmas trading with very strong like-for-like growth”.

Primark said operating profit margin was higher than in the same period last year, reflecting the Christmas trading, and was better than expected.