Customers at Norwich’s new Primark help boost retailer’s UK sales
The opening of Norwich's new improved Primark helped boost UK sales by 4% for the retailer which is set to launch 18 new stores this year.
Owner Associated British Foods also reported its global sales were up 3% with "good trading" over December, despite a "marginal decline" in like-for-like sales.
In a trading update for the 16 weeks up to January 4, ABF said it had "heavily benefited" from the expansion in Norwich along with three other store openings abroad during the period.
The Norwich extended mega store opened to a queue of excited shoppers on Wednesday, December 11 with the store so busy in the run-up to Christmas, staff were employed to hold 'queue ends here' signs at the tills.
John Bason, chief finance officer at ABF, said the retailer performed well given "softer volumes" across the retail market.
He said: "The UK consumer has more discretionary income than before but spending has decreased so there is clearly a degree of caution in retail and there has been in other areas.
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"I think Primark has made a clear statement here and I think we performed well because we went back to basics. There were great products which had a clear relevancy with the consumer and that is what worked for us in November and December."
Elsewhere, ABF was bolstered by its strengthening sugar business, which saw revenues increase 5% after EU sugar prices remained higher than over the same period last year.
It said lower costs in sugar production also mean that there would be be a material improvement in profits from the sugar arm, particularly in the second half.
Increased popularity of herbal teas in the UK and US also helped to improve revenues at its Twinings division.
ABF declined to give the sales figures for the Norwich store stating it never divulged such information on individual outlets.