Pri­mark sales dip hits owner’s shares

Irish Examiner - - Business - Ge­off Per­ci­val

Sales at Dublin-head­quar­tered dis­count cloth­ing re­tailer Pri­mark fell in Novem­ber, due to un­sea­son­ably warm weather.

News of the “chal­leng­ing” Novem­ber for Pri­mark, which trades in Ire­land as Pen­neys, sent the share price of par­ent com­pany As­so­ci­ated Bri­tish Foods (ABF) fall­ing by as much as 5%.

ABF didn’t put a per­cent­age fig­ure on Pri­mark’s Novem­ber sales fall, but said per­for­mance was “neg­a­tive”, al­beit only a “blip” which shouldn’t hin­der Pri­mark’s full-year profit per­for­mance.

“This isn’t a call on Christ­mas — we’ve got three big week­ends com­ing up now be­fore Christ­mas. But I think it is a call on quite mild weather dur­ing Novem­ber and I think it’s af­fected foot­fall. It’s a blip that, from a profit per­spec­tive, we can man­age,” said ABF fi­nance di­rec­tor John Ba­son.

He said that with care­ful in­ven­tory man­age­ment and im­proved mar­gins, the group’s ex­pec­ta­tion for an in­crease in Pri­mark’s full-year profit was un­changed.

“Pri­mark’s sell­ing space ex­pan­sion will con­tinue and we ex­pect an in­crease in re­tail profit for the year,” ABF chair­man Michael McLin­tock told share­hold­ers at the group’s AGM.

Pri­mark, which ac­counts for about half of ABF’s revenue and profit, trades from 363 stores in Europe and North Amer­ica.

That store num­ber in­creases, this week­end, to 364 with Pri­mark’s re­open­ing in cen­tral Belfast, fol­low­ing the Au­gust fire which de­stroyed its store at the Bank Build­ings.

Last month Pri­mark, via ABF, re­ported revenue growth for the 12 months to mid-Septem­ber of 6% to just un­der £7.5bn (€8.6bn), while its an­nual op­er­at­ing prof­its jumped 15% to £843m. The busi­ness was one of the main drivers of an­nual growth for ABF.

The re­tailer is set to look at ex­pand­ing into east­ern Europe, with first stores planned for Poland and Slove­nia.

More ex­pan­sion is also planned on the east coast of the US, where it al­ready has nine stores and two more planned in the next two years.

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