THE owner of Primark has toasted bumper sales and profits as shoppers shrug off price hikes.
Associated British Foods, the diversified FTSE 100 company with grocery, agriculture and retail divisions, reported a 16 per cent rise in sales to £19.7billion for the year to mid-September.
And profits jumped by a quarter to £1.3billion.
Chief executive George Weston described 2023 as a “good year”.
He said: “Shoppers have come into our shops in record numbers and spent at a time when we thought they might not.”
Mr Weston, part of the billionaire Weston family that owns a controlling stake in ABF and luxury London store Fortnum & Mason, said he believed people had dealt with the cost-of-living shocks to their wallets and were now making the most of their squeezed budgets.
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“We know there has been a decline in eating out. But we have seen a rise in our Pataks and Blue Dragon sauce brands as people make Indian and Chinese food at home.
“Shoppers still want inexpensive treats, which is why we’re seeing lipstick and make-up sales rise.”
Mr Weston said sales of Christmas jumpers, pyjamas and silver party outfits were already selling well as people split their festive spending over a couple of pay days.
ABF has hiked the cost of its food brands.
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And Primark, which recently launched a collection with pop star Rita Ora, has raised its prices by 12 per cent over the past year to offset higher costs from ingredients, textiles, shipping and labour.
Mr Weston said inflation was easing and there were no further plans to raise prices at Primark this year.
Unlike rival retailers, Primark shunned online shopping until last November when it introduced a click-and-collect option for its stores and website.
It has since extended this to womenswear.
But Mr Weston said Primark’s position on click and collect was still “never on home delivery — and never on the full range”.
Primark has 432 large stores around the world and has argued that having invested in the high street it needs shoppers to come to them rather than buying online.
MPs tell banks to pay back
MPS have written to high street lenders warning them not to “frustrate and stifle” a new class action case against PPI claims.
Those ripped-off in the PPI scandal last month launched a new legal claim that could cost the banks up to £18billion
The action, led by law firm Harcus Parker, accuses banks of secretly charging an 80 per cent commission on personal protection insurance sales and not refunding it in their previous compensation claims.
Now MPs on the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Business Banking are backing the cause.
They said: “Any backlog of data subject access requests needs to be dealt with efficiently and effectively by the banks.”
Noodle bid axed
PIZZA EXPRESS’S owner has pulled out of gate-crashing a takeover of Wagamama.
Wheel Topco had tried to make a rival bid for the noodle chain after it agreed to a £701million offer from private equity firm Apollo.
The company said yesterday that “due to market conditions” it did not intend to make an offer for Wagamama’s owner The Restaurant Group.
Shares in The Restaurant Group fell by 2.71 per cent.
New home fall
GIANT housebuilder Persimmon has slashed its projects as higher mortgage costs dampen demand.
The company saw a 37 per cent drop in the number of homes it had built year on year at 1,439.
It said mortgage conditions were likely to remain “highly uncertain” next year.
It expects to build 9,500 this year, down from 14,868, as home loans stay high.
But analyst Victoria Scholar said: “The Bank of England is unlikely to carry out many more rate increases.”
HOUSE prices rose 1.1 per cent in October for the first time in six months, says Halifax, the UK’s biggest mortgage lender.
The average property is now £281,974, still 3.2 per cent down compared to last year.
NICK Devlin, the boss of Naked Wines, has been ousted after the online wine merchant slashed its sales and profit forecasts.
The troubled firm told investors yesterday to brace themselves for a 10 per cent fall in profits.
Meanwhile its US arm suffered an even greater slump with shares tumbling more than a third to 30.2p.
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The company has lost almost three-quarters of its value since the year began.
Chairman Rowan Gormley is to take temporary control.
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