Value fashion giant Primark has reported a surge in profits after an “outstanding” year.

Adjusted operating profits at Primark, which is owned by Associated British Foods, rocketed by 44% to £514m in the year to September 14.

Primark’s sales climbed 22% to £4.27bn, driven by new space and like-for-like growth of 5%.

Following 16 store openings in the year, including the opening of a second Oxford Street shop, the retailer’s estate stood at 257 shops.

Primark added 800,000 sq ft of selling space to bring the total to 9 million sq ft at the year end.

This year the retailer expects to add more than a million sq ft of space and there will be 13 openings, including its first French store, in time for Christmas.

Primark reported: “Like-for-like growth during the year was affected by two periods of unseasonable weather; it was flattered at the start of this financial year with the benefit of seasonal autumnal weather compared with an unseasonably warm autumn in 2011, and was subdued during the very cold months of March and April 2013.

“Trading at other times of the year was strong, building upon the success of the comparable periods in the prior year. Trading in our stores in northern continental Europe was strong throughout the year and like-for-like growth in Spain, which was initially held back by the large number of new store openings, improved later in the year.”

Primark-parent Associated British Foods chief executive George Weston said he had been shocked and saddened by the collapse during the year of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh, which had housed a Primark supplier among others. The retailer responded with food and financial assistance to those affected by the disaster.

Weston said: “Primark has committed to provide long-term financial compensation to victims who worked for its supplier, and their dependants. This was an unprecedented undertaking for us and was only possible with the support and close collaboration of international and local stakeholders including NGOs and trade unions.”