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Primark owner warns ‘trading was challenging’ for November

Primark owner, Associated British Foods has warned that trading for November was “challenging” for the clothing retailer.

The group’s chairman, Michael McLintock, will say at its AGM today that a “tough retail market” was to blame for a challenging month. Trading was “in line with expectations” for the first eight weeks of the new financial year according to the chairman. McLintock will say that with “careful inventory management and improved margins, our expectation for the increase in Primark profit is unchanged”.

McLintock will say: “I reiterate the Group outlook statement for the current financial year that was included in the annual report. Primark’s selling space expansion will continue and we expect an increase in retail profit for the year. Following the opening of a store in Belfast tomorrow, we will be trading from 364 stores and a total selling space of 15.1m sq ft.

“In Grocery we expect an improvement in profit from a margin increase in our Australian and UK businesses and a full year contribution from Acetum. The profit at AB Sugar will be significantly lower reflecting the full year effect of EU sugar prices.”

He will add: “At current exchange rates we expect no material translation or transactional effect on profit but the sterling exchange rate can be expected to be volatile given a period of intense Brexit negotiations. Taking all of these factors into account, at this early stage, we still expect adjusted earnings per share for the group for this financial year to be in line with the 2018 financial year.”

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