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Primark Blames Weather for Sliding Sales

Primark Blames Weather for Sliding Sales

Primark has blamed three periods of unseasonable weather for sliding sales this year, the BBC reports.

The fast fashion retailer, owned by Associated British Foods, said sales fell 2.1% for the year to 15 September at stores open more than 12 months.

The decline compared with a 1% increase for the previous year.

However, total Primark sales were up 5%, driven by opening 15 new stores in nine countries totalling another 900,000 sq ft of trading space.

In the UK, like-for-like sales rose 1.2% and the chain won a "significantly" bigger share of the clothing market, but sales in Europe slid 4.7%.

Primark is unusual in not selling online and uses its website to direct customers to one of its 360 stores.

Sophie Lund-Yates, a Hargreaves Lansdown analyst, said: "ABF continues to open up new stores, which given the challenges other bricks and mortar retailers are facing looks a bold move - but it's working.

"Overall sales growth is continuing despite declining like-for-like sales, and a popular summer range means margins and profits continue to climb."

ABF's retail operations accounted for just under half of its £15.6bn in revenues, which were up 1% from last year, with the remainder divided between its sugar, ingredients, grocery and agriculture divisions. Adjusted pre-tax profit rose 5% to £1.37bn.

George Weston, ABF chief executive, said strong profits at Primark and the grocery, agriculture and ingredients businesses more than offset the decline in returns from sugar, which was caused mainly by low prices following EU rule changes.

According to the BBC, Primark plans to open another one million sq ft of retail space in the next financial year, including a huge 160,000 sq ft store in Birmingham that will become its biggest outlet.

The city centre store had been due to open before Christmas, but that has been pushed back to the spring.

After its store in central Belfast was destroyed by fire in August, the retailer will open an outlet in Commonwealth House in the city and plans to restore the damaged Bank Buildings in the longer term.

The chain plans to open large new stores in Bordeaux, Brussels, Utrecht and Milton Keynes in 2019, along with its first in Solvenia - Primark's 12th territory.

It is also aiming to enter more central and eastern European markets and has signed a lease in Warsaw for its first store in Poland.

The company now has nine stores in the US after opening in Brooklyn in July. That site has been trading "very strongly" and ABF said it was "very pleased with our US performance in the second half of this year".

New stores will open in New Jersey next year and another in Florida in 2020, while more are planned.

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