Belfast Telegraph

New Belfast Primark store enjoys strong first month

By Holly Williams

Retail giant Primark says its new Belfast store has had a strong first month of trading since opening.

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The Castle Street outlet was launched in an extension to its original shop following the devastating fire at the Bank Buildings premises at the end of August.

But Primark said it had no update on the timing of the opening of a second store the company is planning for Belfast city centre.

It will be at Commonwealth House in Donegall Place after former tenant, fashion chain New Look, closed on Tuesday.

Primark said: "We are pleased with trading at the Belfast store since its reopening in December."

Yesterday parent company Associated British Foods, which also owns Neills Flour in Belfast, said profits at the budget fashion chain are "well ahead" despite a fall in like-for-like sales over its festive quarter.

The retailer saw a "modest decline" in like-for-like sales in the 16 weeks to January 5, although total sales lifted 4% as it opened more stores.

It cheered a better-than-expected Christmas performance for the budget high street chain in the UK, with total sales up 1%.

On a like-for-like basis, it said UK sales rose in September and October, but lower numbers of shoppers in its stores hit trade in November.

The group added that despite the overall modest decline in global like-for-like sales, profits were "well ahead" at Primark thanks to a higher operating profit margin.

Shares in the FTSE 100-listed group jumped 6% higher.

Primark had previously warned that trading was "challenging" in the run-up to Christmas, reporting that like-for-like sales fell 2.1% in the year to September as bad weather weighed on trading in Europe.

Overall, AB Foods, which also owns a sugar business and grocery business including Twinings and Ovaltine, saw revenues rise 2% on a constant currency basis in the 16 weeks. It saw sugar revenues fall 12% at constant exchange rates, and 14% on a reported basis, after it was impacted in the UK and Spain by lower EU sugar prices for contracts negotiated at the end of its last financial year.

Grocery sales lifted 3% at a constant currency and 2% on a reported basis, while its agriculture and ingredients arm saw sales increase 5% and 6% respectively.

Tom Stevenson, director from Fidelity Personal Investing's share dealing service, said it was a "sweet and sour" update.

Belfast Telegraph

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