The owner of budget fashion chain Primark posted a rise in sales over its Christmas quarter as higher prices helped it overcome a hit from warm autumn weather.
Associated British Foods (AB Foods) said Primark sales grew 2.1% on a like-for-like basis in the 16 weeks to January 6, with total revenues at the retailer up 7.9%.
In the UK, comparable store sales rose by 3.8% as it said strong growth in the run-up to Christmas helped offset a knock from unusually warm autumn weather at the start of the quarter.
The group said the Primark sales rise was driven by higher average selling prices as well as strong demand for Christmas ranges and lines such as its collection designed in collaboration with singer Rita Ora.
It said it did not expect “significant disruption” from the Red Sea shipping attacks, despite many rivals flagging worries over stock delays and cost hikes.
AB Foods said: “We continue to monitor the situation in the Red Sea but at this stage we do not expect any significant disruption to our supply chain.”
It said improvements in profitability across the Primark business “should insulate us well against potential additional costs of supply due to the disruption in the Red Sea should they arise”.
The group cheered a record UK market share over the three months to December 10, at 7.1%, according to recent Kantar data.
Trading elsewhere in Europe was more patchy for the retailer as like-for-like sales edged up 1.3%, with sales in some countries impacted by local economic woes and strong trading from a year ago.
It said new store openings helped boost its performance in the US, where total sales rose 45%.
The wider group – which also runs large grocery, ingredients and agriculture operations – is on track for “a year of meaningful progress” in profitability, according to AB Foods.
Overall group-wide revenues lifted 5.4% to £6.9 billion in the first quarter to January 6.