Sales and growth are up, although parent company ABF struggled through
Discount retailer Primark has delivered strong sales and profit growth over the second half, while parent company Associated British Foods (ABF) struggled against tough trading conditions.

The group said that like-for-like sales growth at the cut-price chain is expected to be over 3 per cent for the full year, with second half like-for-like sales in line with the same period last year when strong like-for-like growth of 12 per cent was achieved.

The high street store added that stores opened in the second half, including its Spanish outlet, are trading well.

A good performance from Primark, Ingredients and most of ABF's grocery division largely offset the well-trumpeted profits hit at the group's British Sugar business.

'Overall, we expect (Primark) sales to have risen by 35 per cent to£1.36 billion and 31 per cent growth in EBITA to£183 million. We have cut our EPS forecast for 2007E by 5 per cent to 54.5p, reflecting the translation impact of a weaker US dollar coupled with our slightly more conservative view on Primark, but we are still looking for 34 per cent base profit growth at Primark next year,' said Panumre Gordon analyst Graham Jones.

Following the closure of three smaller stores, the chain at the year end will be trading from 143 stores spanning 3.5 million sq ft (325,150 sq m) of retail selling space, an increase of 40 per cent over the year.

Primark's refit of the former Littlewoods stores is on schedule with 18 stores expected to be trading by the end of the year.

ABF has unveiled a pre-close trading update prior to entering its close period for its full year results to September 16, which are scheduled to be announced on November 7 this year.