Primark owner Associated British Foods sees profits jump

Primark store.
Press Association

Associated British Foods (ABF) said its annual profits surged, buoyed by growth at its Primark clothing chain and a recovery in its sugar businesses.

The food-to-fashion group said adjusted operating profit rose 22% to £1.36bn in the year to 16 September, with group revenues up 15% at £15.4bn.

With more than 60% of ABF’s sales and profits generated outside the UK, the results benefited from a weaker pound.

Primark’s revenues rose 19% to £7.05bn as the chain continued to expand.

Even after opening 30 stores in nine countries with 1.5 million square feet of selling space, ABF said Primark still had room for “significant growth”.

The company said trading at Primark had been “excellent”, particularly over the summer.

In the UK, Primark “performed particularly well”, ABF said, with sales up 10% from last year and its share of the total clothing market “increased significantly”.

‘Significant growth’

In its other businesses, AB Sugar, ABF’s sugar unit, benefited from an increase in EU sugar prices as well as structural changes at the unit.

The company expects “progress” in its grocery and ingredients businesses, whose brands include Twinings, Ovaltine, Kingsmill bread, Jordans, Dorset Cereals, Patak’s and Blue Dragon. Grocery results in the past year “were held back by the trading environment faced by the UK bakeries,” the company said.

ABF, which spent £79m on business acquisitions in the past year, said it had completed the acquisition of Acetum, an Italian producer of high-quality balsamic vinegar.

Chief executive George Weston said: “These results reflect our international diversity, and the strong underlying performance of our businesses was driven by management actions throughout the year”.

ABF operates in 50 countries worldwide, with significant businesses in Europe, southern Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Australia.

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