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Primark CFO upbeat despite dip in like-for-like sales

Primark remains positive despite its “marginal decline” in like-for-like UK sales over the all-important Christmas trading period, John Bason, chief financial officer at the retailer’s owner, Associated British Foods, has told Drapers.

“I’m really pleased with that number,” he said. “Why? Because the context is that the UK market was in decline between 1% and 2%, and our like-for-like decline was between 0% and 1%.”

He added: “We have traded better than the market overall – it’s incontrovertible. Forget using the new store openings as a cover. Primark has continued to evolve. How people are spending their money on clothing is changing a lot and the consumer is savvy and making informed choices. [We] have framed it so one of those informed choices is Primark.” 

Primark reported a 4.5% rise in total sales for the 16 weeks to 4 January compared to 2018/9, with UK sales up 4%. 

A growing category, Bason said, is childrenswear, which currently comes in third to men’s and womenswear sales. 

Women’s Christmas party outfits, and “fam jams” – matching pyjamas for the whole family – were also big sellers during the period. 

Licensing continues to be a strong performer for Primark, and since Christmas the retailer has launched its new Stranger Things collection in collaboration with Netflix. The range includes accessories, homeware and clothing. 

After the success of its previous activewear collections with influencer Alice Liveing, Primark has launched a further range with more items made from recycled materials. 

The retailer reported a “particularly good” November and December, and Bason said it would take its Black Friday and Christmas model through to next year. 

”We had some great trading days around Black Friday,” he said. “Our strategy has always been to be one of the lowest prices on a consistent basis.” 

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