Apr 19, 2017

Sugar lifts profits at Primark owner ABF

The baton of profits growth at Associated British Foods passed from its retail business Primark to sugar in the first half of the year, after the FTSE 100 company reported a near-doubling of pre-tax earnings. George Weston, chief executive of the family-controlled conglomerate, said on Wednesday that the 41-fold leap in sugar profits to £123m in the 24 weeks to March 4, from £3m in the same period last year, was down to "Higher prices and hard work". ABF shares rose 3 per cent to £28.04 in early London trading but are still 18 per cent lower than a year ago on concerns about Primark's profitability. At Primark - ABF's biggest business by sales and earnings - operating profits of £323m were 3 per cent higher than the first half last year, but 2 per cent lower at constant exchange rates. Adjusting for the exceptional gain, pre-tax profits were up 35 per cent at £624m. Adjusted operating profits of £652m were 36 per cent higher in reported terms - or 23 per cent at constant currencies.

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