Christmas trading at value retailer Primark was ahead of expectations, parent company Associated British Foods (ABF) disclosed.

Sales rose 26 per cent, driven by store openings and strong like-for-like growth in the 16 weeks to January 5.

At January 5, there were 173 Primark stores, equating to 5 million sq ft of trading space. In the present financial year, it has opened two stores in Spain, in Jerez and Madrid, one in Cork and replaced small stores at Tralee in County Kerry, Ireland, and Brighton with larger branches. It will open a further four stores in Spain in April.