Primark sales growth boosts Associated British Foods

Primark store
Image caption The Primark chain now has 242 stores

Primark-owner Associated British Foods has reported full-year pre-tax profits of £761m, citing "exceptional" performance from its discount fashion chain.

Primark achieved 3% like-for-like sales growth and revenues of £3.5bn, up 15%, for the year to 15 September 2012.

The chain created 10,000 new jobs and now employs 43,000 worldwide.

Group chief executive George Weston said UK trading had been "particularly strong" and European sales "buoyant".

Primark opened 19 new stores during the year and now has 242 worldwide, with 157 of those in the UK.

AB Foods, which owns well-known brands such as Kingsmill and Twinings, also said strong performance in its sugar division had contributed to "very good results for the group".

Thanks largely to higher commodity prices, revenues at AB Sugar rose 25% to £2.66bn, while revenues at the group's agriculture division rose 12% to £1.27bn.

But despite the strong divisional performances, the group pre-tax profits of £761m were only £4m up on 2011.

The group's share price, up nearly 20% over the year, fell 0.8% to 1,355p, as analysts are reportedly worried that high sugar prices will not be sustained.

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