06/11/2012 09:34 GMT | Updated 06/11/2012 10:51 GMT

Primark Owner Reports 15% Pre-Christmas Profits Increase

British shoppers are continuing to back value-chain Primark, leading it to report an "exceptional" year's results of £3.5 billion in sales and the creation of 10,000 new jobs.

The budget chain, which has 158 of its 244 stores in the UK, grew operating profits by 15% to £356 million in the year to 15 September, according to its parent company Associated British Foods.

Primark's like-for-like sales were 3% higher, with the UK trading particularly strongly during the summer. European markets were also buoyant despite tough economic conditions, with good results for three of its markets in Ireland, Spain and Portugal.

Nineteen new stores were opened in the year and a further 12 stores will have opened in time for Christmas, including a second store in Austria.

In the UK, Primark plans to complete the expansion of its city centre stores in Manchester and Newcastle by the spring of 2013.

The business, which has doubled annual sales in the past five years, currently employs more than 43,000 people.

Analysts predicted Primark's impressive performance would continue for the forseeable.

"The world is its oyster," said Shore Capital retail analyst Clive Black. "The key challenge remains effectively managing growth because wherever this format pitches it does well."

Black added that with sugar profits from AB Sugars expected to fall back from its recent highs, Primark's continued success would be imperative for parent company Associated British Foods.

"Thankfully, the retailer is fabulous," he concluded.

Lauren Charnley, Redmayne-Bentley’s stockbroker, added: "The results show a resilience from AB Foods in a year that has seen many of its competitors struggle due to the tough economic climate.”

"These are very good results for the group and include exceptional performances from AB Sugar and Primark," said George Weston, AB Foods chief executive.

"Global economic uncertainty remains but we have opportunities for further investment and the strength of the group balance sheet and a strong cash flow will enable us to pursue them with confidence."