Primark like-for-likes are expected to edge up 2% in its first half.

Total sales are expected to soar 15% in the six months to March 3.

The Associated British Foods owned retailer said it had experienced good trading since the New Year in light of the economic climate. This follows its “particularly strong” Christmas.

Recent good trading has offset its slow start to its financial year which the value clothing chain put down to the unusually warm autumn.

Operating margins will be lower than last year due to Primark’s absorption of higher cotton costs. The retailer expects to start seeing the benefit of lower input costs in its second half.

Primark opened nine new stores in the first half, including two in Spain, three in Germany and one in Portugal and Holland. It now operates from 232 stores.

It expects to add a further 0.4 million sq ft of space in the second half, with Spain being the biggest benefactor.

Analyst Panmure Gordon expects half year EBITA to nudge up from £151m to £153m but is forecasting a 9.7% jump in full year EBITA to £339m as costs fall in the second half.