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Primark like-for-likes to edge up 2% in first half

Primark like-for-likes are expected to edge up 2% in its first half, according to a pre close trading statement by parent Associated British Foods.

Total sales are expected to soar 15% in the six months to March 3.

The Associated British Foods owned retailer said it had experienced good trading since the New Year in light of the economic climate. This follows its “particularly strong” Christmas.

Recent strong trading has offset its slow start to its financial year which the value clothing chain put down to the unusually warm autumn.

Operating margins will be lower than last year due to Primark’s absorption of higher cotton costs. The retailer expects to start seeing the benefit of lower input costs in its second half.

Primark opened nine new stores in the first half, including two in Spain, three in Germany and one in Portugal and Holland. It now operates from 232 stores.

It expects to add a further 0.4 million sq ft of space in the second half, with Spain being the biggest benefactor.

Analyst Panmure Gordon expects half year EBITA to nudge up to £153m from £151m but is forecasting a 9.7% jump in full year EBITA to £339m as costs fall in the second half.

Primark’s interim results will be announced on April 24.

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