LONDON (dpa-AFX) - Associated British Foods plc (ASBFY.PK, ABF.L) reported that its group revenue from continuing operations for the 16 weeks ended 5 January 2019 was 2% ahead of the same period last year at constant currency. Sterling has strengthened marginally against most of major trading currencies, other than the US dollar, and as a result sales from continuing operations at actual exchange rates were 1% ahead.
The company noted that outlook for the group is unchanged, with adjusted operating profit and adjusted earnings per share for the year expected to be in line with last year.
Sales at Primark were 4% ahead of last year, at both constant currency and actual exchange rates, and with a higher operating profit margin, profit was well ahead. Sales growth was driven by increased retail selling space partially offset by a modest decline in like-for-like sales.
The UK performed well and our share of the total clothing market increased significantly. Sales were 1% ahead of last year for the period, in a market which declined year-on-year. Like-for-like sales in September and October were ahead but reduced footfall affected sales in November. Sales over the Christmas trading period exceeded expectations.
Sales in the Eurozone were 5% ahead of last year at constant currency. Sales growth was especially strong again in France, Belgium and Italy, performance strengthened in our second largest market, Spain, but soft trading continued in a difficult German market.
AB Sugar revenue from continuing operations was 12% behind last year at constant currency and 14% behind at actual exchange rates.
Sales for Grocery were 3% ahead at constant currency, 2% ahead of last year at actual exchange rates and operating profit margins on an underlying basis improved.
AB Agri revenue was 5% ahead of last year at constant currency and actual exchange rates.
Sales in Ingredients were 6% ahead of last year at constant currency and 1% ahead at actual exchange rates.
The company now expects to open 0.9 million sq ft in this financial year. The opening of the American Dream shopping mall in New Jersey has been delayed and consequently new store there will now open next financial year while our smaller store in Oviedo, Spain will close this spring. 160,000 sq ft store in Birmingham is expected to open in April and our first store in Slovenia later this financial year.
The company noted that Operating profit for the full year is in line with expectations.
Sugar production at Illovo for the full financial year is expected to be ahead of last year at some 1.75 million tonnes, with campaigns extended to counter wet conditions which impacted production in the early part of the season.
Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX