Sales at value fashion giant Primark were up 6% at £7.48bn in the 12 months to 15 September 2018 but like-for-likes took a -2.1% dip due to unseasonable weather hitting sales, particularly in northern Europe.
Adjusted operating profit growth was strong, up 15% to £843m giving a margin of 11.3% (up from 10.3% in the prior year). The results were achieved in a market that was overall down year on year.
The business said that the UK had been a particularly strong performer with sales up 5.3% and like-for-likes up 1.2%.
Like-for-like growth in the UK was strong in the first half and marginally down in the second half, due to a weakened market and when compared to strong comparisons year-on-year.
Primark said sell-through of summer ranges was strong, which meant markdowns were lower than expected, and it added that early trading of its AW18 range had been “encouraging”.
In the Eurozone, sales were up 4.7% with like-for-likes down -4.7%. Sales growth was achieved in Spain, Portugal and Germany and was particularly strong in France, Belgium and Italy. However the like-for-like drop was driven by unseasonable weather in three distinct periods and soft trading from Germany in a weak market.
The business declared itself pleased with the performance of its US market, where existing stores delivered like-for-like growth in the second half. Primark now has nine US stores and is opening two more in 2019 and 2020 in New Jersey and Florida respectively.
During the year net selling space increased by 0.9m sq ft with 15 new store openings and now totals 14.8m sq ft across 360 stores. A further 1m sq ft of selling space will be added in the next year with the UK gaining the most with 15 net new stores planned. The company has pledged to return to a selling space in Belfast after its store in the city was destroyed by fire in August.