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UPDATE 1-Primark firms up profit guidance after post-lockdown trading exceeds expectations

Mon, 7th Sep 2020 08:11

(Adds detail)

LONDON, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Associated British Foods
said on Monday it expects full-year profit at its Primark
fashion chain to be at least at the top end of its previously
guided range after trading in its latest quarter exceeded
expectations.

Adjusted earnings per share for the group as a whole for the
year to Sept. 12 were forecast to be "significantly below" last
year, however, mainly as a result of the decline in Primark's
profit due to lockdowns across Europe.

In July the group forecast full year adjusted operating
profit for Primark in a range of 300 million-350 million pounds
($396 million-$462 million), down from 913 million pounds the
previous year.

Shares in the group were up 3.7% at 0709 GMT.

Following the lockdowns, all Primark stores reopened during
May, June and July, and trading during the fourth quarter has
been strong, the group said.

In the latest four-week UK market data for sales in all
channels, Primark achieved its highest ever value and volume
shares for this time of year, it added.

Primark, which does not have an online offer, expects UK
sales since reopening to be 12% lower on a like-for-like basis,
with Europe and the United States down 17% and 9% respectively
on the same basis.

AB Foods also said trading in its food businesses had
exceeded expectations in its fourth quarter.

It said the grocery division had benefited from a
continuation of increased sales in its key markets of the United
States, Europe and Australia.

Increased demand for yeast and bakery ingredients,
particularly across the Americas and China, delivered higher
sales for the ingredients division, it added.

For the full year the group forecast a "very strong"
increase in aggregate profit for its sugar, grocery, agriculture
and ingredients businesses.

($1 = 0.7568 pounds)
(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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