// Primark lost £430m in sales due to second lockdowns brought about by the second wave
// It saw 62% of its stores worldwide shut in November
// Primark says since stores in England, Ireland, Belgium and France have reopened sales have surged
Primark’s parent company has revealed that lockdowns brought about from the second wave in the pandemic – especially in England – along with regional lockdowns and restrictions, has hit sales to the tune of £430 million.
Associated British Foods (AB Foods) said this figure was higher than when bosses last month predicted sales would be hit by £375 million.
However, the company said it has recovered some of the costs, with overheads falling 25 per cent during the autumn lockdowns, and early signs that reopened stores are seeing strong sales.
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Customers at Primark, which reopened in England on Wednesday, have been eager to buy clothes again and long queues have formed at some branches.
To maximise sales and spread out customer numbers, some stores have continued trading through the night, while others have extended opening hours.
Stores in the Ireland, France and Belgium also reopened in the past week.
AB Foods said 34 stores remain temporarily closed, including all outlets in Northern Ireland and Austria, representing seven per cent of Primark’s total retail selling space.
This compares with 62 per cent when the highest number of stores were closed in November.
“Sales in the days since reopening in each of these markets have once again been very strong, reflecting the excitement and appeal of the Primark offering,” AB Foods chairman Michael McLintock said.
“We have extended the opening hours during this festive season in most of our stores in the Republic of Ireland and England to cater for the anticipated higher customer demand and to help ensure a safer environment by spreading shopping hours over a longer period.”
His comments, due to be made at the AB Food’s annual shareholder meeting, also included an update on post-Brexit transition plans, saying preparations are complete.
“Following the UK’s exit from the EU, our businesses have completed all practical preparations for the end of the transition period this month and contingency plans are in place should our businesses experience some disruption at that time,” McLintock said.
Since the start of this financial year, new Primark stores have opened in the US – in New Jersey and Florida – with “encouraging” performance from its remaining sites.
Strong sales were also seen in Primark’s first store in Rome in Italy, and a fifth site opened in Barcelona, Spain.
“Notwithstanding the currently announced periods of restriction, we continue to expect Primark sales and profit to be higher this financial year compared to last. We will continue to expand retail selling space,” McLintock said.
with PA Wires