Sales at discount fashion chain Primark fell 30 per cent in the 16 weeks to January 2 as lockdowns across Europe closed three-quarters of its stores and wiped out an estimated £540m in revenue.
It said that if the stores remained closed until the end of its financial year in February, the loss of sales would total £1.05bn, up from an earlier estimate of £650m.
As a result, the company is expected to “broadly break even” in the first half, compared with an adjusted operating profit of £441m for the same period in the past financial year. If stores remain closed until March, there would be a further reduction in full-year profit of £300m.
Primark will store £200m of autumn/winter stock for sale later in the year but said all orders placed with suppliers would be honoured.
Even while stores were open, same-store sales were down 14 per cent during the period.
The company, owned by conglomerate Associated British Foods, said sales at retail parks were higher but shopping centres and regional high streets were lower and outlets in large city centres, such as Oxford Street in London and the group’s Birmingham flagship, were sharply lower.
Christmas and gift lines sold strongly, as did categories such as nightwear and loungewear. Markdown was lower than last year.
However, trading across AB Foods’ grocery, sugar, agriculture and ingredients business has been ahead of both expectations and last year.