New stores planned for Primark as sales rise

Fashion retailer Primark plans to open 18 new stores this year, and relocate a number of others, after reporting positive sales growth driven by increased physical trading space.

Parent company Associated British Foods (ABF) said Primark's sales in the 16 weeks to 4 January were 4.5% ahead of the same period a year earlier. “This sales growth was due almost entirely to the increase in selling space. Like-for-like performance improved, driven by a marked upturn in the Eurozone,” said the company in its trading statement.

UK sales held up well - despite difficult trading conditions which saw some rival groups performing poorly - showing 4% growth, though like-for-like sales were down slightly. The company said that trading was especially strong in November and December, in the run-up to Christmas. The brand grew its market share in the UK as a result of its new store openings.

Stores in France, Germany and Italy all performed well, with new store openings in Germany, Spain and Italy.

The retailer now plans to enter the Polish market, with a store scheduled to open in Warsaw in the spring. Further openings in Poland, Prague and Slovakia are also planned this year.

In total, Primark now has 376 stores, providing 1.467m sq m (15.8m sq ft) of trading space.

As well as Primark, ABF consists of AB Sugar, and grocery brands such as Twinings, Ovaltine and Ryvita, as well as agricultural businesses. It also provides ingredients to many of the world's food manufacturers.