Pre-Christ­mas squeeze for Pri­mark

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - BUSINESS -

Pri­mark owner As­so­ci­ated Bri­tish Foods (ABF) has warned of chal­leng­ing trad­ing at the bud­get re­tail chain in the vi­tal Christ­mas run-up.

The group said Novem­ber had been “tough”, but stuck to its ex­pec­ta­tion for an in­crease in prof­its at Pri­mark as a re­sult of care­ful in­ven­tory man­age­ment and im­proved mar­gins.

Re­tail­ers had been hop­ing for some fes­tive cheer over the crit­i­cal Christ­mas trad­ing pe­riod, the high street’s busiest time of year by a dis­tance, fol­low­ing a dif­fi­cult 2018.

ABF chair­man Michael McLin­tock said Pri­mark’s ex­pan­sion will con­tinue, with a new Belfast store open­ing this week­end to re­place a flag­ship store rav­aged by fire in Au­gust.

Last month, ABF re­ported a 2.1% like­for-like sales fall at Pri­mark in the year to Septem­ber as bad weather hit trad­ing.

In its gro­cery busi­ness, ABF said it ex­pected prof­its to im­prove as mar­gins in its Aus­tralian and UK units rose.

How­ever, it warned re­turns from its su­gar unit will be “sig­nif­i­cantly lower” on the back of higher prices in the EU.

Mr McLin­tock said: “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.”

Shares closed down 108p at 2,242p fol­low­ing the up­date.

Mean­while, fan­tasy minia­tures maker Games Work­shop pen­cilled in a healthy rise in first-half sales and prof­its.

The FTSE 250 con­stituent said trad­ing had con­tin­ued in line with ex­pec­ta­tions in the six months to De­cem­ber 2, with sales set to come in 13% higher at £124 mil­lion.

Op­er­at­ing profit is set to nudge up from £38.8m to £41m.

The re­sults were helped by the con­tin­ued pop­u­lar­ity of table­top game Warham­mer.

“We have built on the progress we made last year and the re­sults are con­sid­er­able given the back­drop of ma­jor projects, in­creas­ing fac­tory ca­pac­ity and en­ter­prise re­source plan­ning sys­tem im­ple­men­ta­tion,” the firm said.

Shares in the group came un­der pres­sure in Oc­to­ber af­ter the com­pany warned over un­cer­tain trad­ing.

How­ever, yesterday’s pos­i­tive up­date gave in­vestors re­newed con­fi­dence and the man­u­fac­turer’s stock closed trad­ing up 130p at 2,995p last night.

Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages.

Trad­ing has been chal­leng­ing for Pri­mark, ac­cord­ing to owner ABF.

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