Primark’s UK like-for-like sales are expected to be up by 2% in its first half to 4 March, while like-for-like sales for the group will be level, the firm said in a pre-close trading update today.
Sales are expected to be 11% ahead of last year at constant currency, driven by increased retail selling space, and 21% ahead at actual exchange rates.
The company has increased its retail selling space by 0.8m sq ft since the financial year end and will have 329 stores trading from 13.1m sq ft as of 4 March.
It opened 16 new stores during the period, including relocations in Reading and Sheffield, and new UK stores in Carlisle, Stafford, Truro, York and Colchester; Liffey Valley in Ireland; Mallorca in Spain; Mannheim and Hamburg in Germany; Lille and Paris, Evry in France; the second store in Italy in Brescia; an 89,000 sq ft store in the centre of Amsterdam; and the sixth store in the US in Burlington, Massachusetts.
The store on Tottenham Court Road end of Oxford Street in London was extended by almost 40%, increasing square footage to 114,000 sq ft, making it one of the largest stores in the Primark portfolio after Manchester and Newcastle in the UK and Madrid, Gran Via in Spain.
Primark will open 1.3m sq ft of new selling space in the new financial year, including new stores in Uxbridge in the UK; Charleroi, Belgium; Granada, Spain; Zwolle in the Netherlands and Staten Island in the US, and an extension to the Downtown Crossing store in Boston, US.
Primark’s parent group Associated British Food (ABF) said it expects to generate all of its adjusted operating profit in the first half, due in part to the impact of the sterling weakness against the US dollar on Primark’s purchases.
The full effect of the weakness will result in a greater margin decline in the second half because the firm’s currency hedges were at more advantageous exchange rates in the first half, it said.