Primark is eyeing further European expansion as its French debut gets off to a flying start.

Parent company Associated British Foods finance director John Bason said: “Are we likely to go to adjacent countries? Yes, of course in the next three years.”

Bason said that Primark had a “great” opening in its first French store in Marseille Grand Littoral shopping centre. He said he was encouraged by the breadth of Primark’s appeal as its second store, a provincial shop in Dijon, was also performing well.

Like-for-like sales at Primark rose 4% in the first half buoyed by a strong performance at Christmas when its novelty jumpers flew off the shelves.

Total sales grew 13% at constant currency rates in the half to March 1 and 14% at actual rates due to a strong euro.

Bason said that Primark was benefitting from the improved macro-economic environment in the UK. “Things are getting better in the UK although consumers remain careful,” he said.

Operating profit margin is now expected to be higher than in the same period last year.

Primark opened 16 new shops, including the two French shops, and six Spanish openings.

The retailer is planning to add 500,000 sq ft of selling space this financial year, including opening in three suburban shopping centres in Paris.

Primark said it plans to open larger city centre stores in the UK  as they were achieving superior sales densities.

Bason said in large cities such as Newcastle, Manchester and Birmingham, its ideal store size is now 100,000 sq ft and in smaller towns such as Cambridge, around 50,000 sq ft.