Value fashion retailer Primark’s sales and profits will be “well ahead of last year”, parent company Associated British Foods reported in its pre-close update.

Like-for-like growth of 2 per cent is expected at Primark in the second half, despite a weak performance in April when poor weather affected sales.

Primark will open a new distribution centre at Thrapston in Northamptonshire by the end of the financial year, increasing its UK capacity by 50 per cent.

By the end of the second half, Primark expects to have 181 stores, including five in Spain, and be trading from 5.4 million sq ft of selling space – an increase of 8 per cent year on year.

Panmure Gordon analyst Graham Jones welcomed an “impressive” Primark sales performance. He calculated fourth quarter like-for-like growth to be 4 per cent against his forecast of 0 per cent.

He estimated the retailer would incur£15 million costs from the opening of the new warehouse but expected EBIT to rise from£236 million to£250 million next year.