Sales at Primark in the 16 weeks to 4 January were up 4.5% on 2018/19, boosted by new store openings.
The value retailer said its like-for-like performance improved during the period driven by a “marked upturn” in Europe.
UK sales were up 4% on last year, boosted by a “particularly good” November and December. However, like-for-like sales were down marginally.
Sales in Europe were up 5.1% on 2019, reflecting an increase in selling space and like-for-like growth. The US business also delivered like-for-like sales growth in the period.
Operating profit margin in the period decreased, as expected, but the effect of purchases contracted at a stronger US dollar exchange rate than last year were partially mitigated by cost reductions in both the cost of goods and overheads.
Retail selling space increased by 200,000 sq ft since the financial year end and, at 4 January 2020, 376 stores were trading from 15.8 million sq ft compared with 15.1 million sq ft a year ago. Three new stores were opened in the period: Seville Lagoh in Spain, Kiel in Germany and Milan Fiordaliso in Italy. Primark also relocated to larger premises in Norte shopping centre in Porto, Portugal, the Norwich store in the UK was extended and selling space was reduced in two stores in Germany.
The retailer expects to add a net 900,000 sq ft of additional selling space in this financial year, opening 18 new stores, and relocating others. Selling space will be reduced in a further store in Germany. Primark said trading at its first store in eastern Europe, in Ljubljana, Slovenia exceeded expectations. As previously announced, it will enter the Polish market with a new store in Warsaw in spring 2020, followed by a store in Prague, Czech Republic. It has now also signed leases for a further store in Poland, in Poznan, and for its first store in Slovakia, in Bratislava which will take Primark to its fifteenth country.