Pri­mark finds life ‘chal­leng­ing’

Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - Business - RAVENDER SEMBHY busi­[email protected]­erndai­ly­

PRI­MARK owner As­so­ci­ated Bri­tish Foods (ABF) has warned that trad­ing at the bud­get re­tail chain in the run-up to Christ­mas has been “chal­leng­ing”.

The group said that in Novem­ber the mar­ket has 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 cat­a­strophic 2018.

Sev­eral big names in­clud­ing House of Fraser, Toys R Us and Maplin have gone bust, with scores of other re­tail­ers en­act­ing store clo­sure pro­grammes.

ABF chair­man Michael McLin­tock said that Pri­mark’s ex­pan­sion will con­tinue, with its 364th store open­ing in Belfast on Satur­day. It fol­lows the de­struc­tion of its ex­ist­ing site in a fire in Au­gust.

Last month, ABG re­ported that like-for-like sales at Pri­mark fell 2.1 per cent in the year to Septem­ber as bad weather weighed on trad­ing in Europe. In gro­cery, ABF ex­pects an im­prove­ment in profit from a mar­gin in­crease in its Aus­tralian and UK busi­nesses, but prof­its at the firm’s su­gar unit will be “sig­nif­i­cantly lower”, re­flect­ing the ef­fect of EU su­gar prices.

The group also warned that ster­ling is ex­pected to be “volatile given a pe­riod of in­tense Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions”, but is not cur­rently an­tic­i­pat­ing an im­pact on the com­pany.

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.”

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