Associated British Foods Sees Hit To Primark Sales From Autumn Lockdowns
Associated British Foods, the owner of clothing retailer Primark, raised its estimate of sales lost during temporary closures of stores in major markets in the autumn of 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions to £430 million.
The group previously forecast a £375 million sales hit.
However, the group said that trading in its grocery, sugar, ingredients and agriculture businesses has been ahead of both expectations and last year.
In a trading statement on Friday, AB Foods said that it still expects Primark's full year 2020/21 sales and profit to be higher than the previous year.
Primark made a profit of £362 million in its 2019/20 financial year, which ended on September 12.
"Stores in our major markets of the Republic of Ireland, England, France and Belgium reopened in the last week," commented Associated British Foods chairman Michael McLintock. "Sales in the days since reopening in each of these markets have once again been very strong, reflecting the excitement and appeal of the Primark offering.
"We have extended the opening hours during this festive season in most of our stores in the Republic of Ireland and England to cater for the anticipated higher customer demand and to help ensure a safer environment by spreading shopping hours over a longer period."
Across its markets, 34 stores remain temporarily closed, including all stores in Northern Ireland and Austria.
AB Foods said all orders Primark has placed with suppliers have been honoured.
It said that it has completed all practical preparations for the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31 and contingency plans were in place.
"Following the UK's exit from the EU, our businesses have completed all practical preparations for the end of the transition period this month and contingency plans are in place should our businesses experience some disruption at that time," McLintock added.