Primark owner AB Foods sees profits rise

Primark store
Image caption AB Foods said Primark delivered a robust result

Associated British Foods has announced a 3% rise in half-year profits thanks to strong performances from its Primark retail chain and its sugar business.

AB Foods said pre-tax profits for the 24 weeks to 3 March 2012 came in at £329m, compared with £319m a year ago.

Group sales rose 11% to £5.8bn.

Sales at its sugar division, which includes Silver Spoon, rose 17% while operating profit rose 59% helped by higher prices in the UK, Spain and Africa.

But the group warned that the ending of sugar quotas in 2015, as proposed by the European Commission, would jeopardise further investment in the European sugar industry.

AB Foods said it was engaged with European policymakers "to explore alternative options for sugar reform".

Its Primark chain saw a 15% rise in sales as under-pressure consumers turned to discount fashion stores.

The retail chain said it had added one million square foot of selling space in the past year and that "this pace of expansion is expected to continue".

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