Britain’s AB Foods expects Primark to bounce back

LONDON (Reuters) -Associated British Foods forecast a significant increase in sales and profit at its Primark fashion chain in its new financial year after the 2020-21 performance was dented by store closures due to the pandemic.

The group said it expected Primark’s sales to increase by at least the estimated 2 billion pounds ($2.7 billion) lost to closures during the crisis, with its adjusted operating margin, recovering to over 10%. Revenue and profit fell 5% and 11% in 2020-21.

“Primark is not immune to the challenges of supply chain, raw material cost and labour rate inflation. However, we currently expect the impact of these to be broadly mitigated by the transaction currency gain arising from the weaker U.S dollar, improved store labour efficiency and lower operating costs,” AB Foods said.

The group, which also has major sugar, grocery, ingredients and agriculture operations, said it was seeing significant cost increases in energy, logistics and commodities in addition to the impact of port congestion and road freight limitations.

It said it was working to offset the impact of these through cost savings.

Where necessary, its food businesses will also implement price increases, it said.

In the 53 weeks to Sept. 18 the group made adjusted earnings per share of 80.1 pence and adjusted operating profit of 1.01 billion pounds, both down 1%.

It forecast “significant progress” in 2021-22 on both measures.

It will also pay a special dividend after its balance sheet and cash flow recovered from the hiatus of the pandemic.

($1 = 0.7414 pounds)

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Kate Holton)

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