AB Foods enjoys 'decent' Christmas sales at Primark, mixed bag elsewhere

Associated British Foods (LSE: ABF) reported a mixed first quarter on Tuesday, with “decent” Christmas sales at its Primark retail arm making up for sluggish performance in some divisions.

The FTSE 100 firm said total group sales rose 2.8% year-on-year to £6.89bn in the 13 weeks to January 6. Growth reached 5.4% at constant currency. Sales at the company’s crown jewel Primark jumped 7.3% to £3.38bn, expanding 7.9% at constant rates.

“Following the period’s early warm weather challenges, sales grew strongly in the run-up to Christmas,” AB Foods explained. The value fashion retailer saw its UK market share reach a record 7.1% in December.

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However, sales were lacklustre elsewhere. Ingredients revenue declined 2.8% while the Agriculture division saw a 12% drop, partly due to continued customer destocking. Sugar was a bright spot, with sales up 3.8% or 13% at constant currency.

Shares in AB Foods, which also owns popular grocery brands like Twinings tea and Kingsmill bread, traded 1.5% higher on Tuesday morning. The stock is up 23% over the past year.