Primark still looking sharp

Primark has put last week's child bikini hoo-ha behind it to announce strong profits - again.

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

In a story that's becoming about as familiar as the sight of grounded tourists railing against ash clouds, budget bruiser Primark has exceeded expectations and again posted glowing results - profits were up 18% and hit £144m for the past six months.

Owner Associated British Foods (ABF) also performed well. Underlying pre-tax profits for the company, which also owns Twinings, Ryvita and Kingsmill, rose 20% to £331m in the same period.

ABF must be chuffed with the results. Primark's success shows that there's no sign that the downshift which came with the recession is in any danger of abating, which means its tills should keep ringing aloud for time to come.

It's certainly better than the news ABF had to deal with last week, when Primark was once again embroiled in controversy - this time over its ill-advised decision to stock a padded bikini for girls as young as seven.

While Primark isn't the only chain to have gone down that dubious route (remember Tesco trying to flog a pole-dancing kit in its toys section a few years back?), the retailer has come in for a great deal of stick from all sides, including the Children's Society and David Cameron, who described the sale of the candy pink, gold-starred bikinis as ‘disgraceful'.

Primark quickly withdrew the product, which had the Sun declaring the ‘Paedo bikini banned'. Such terminology was just a mite less sensationalist than the accusations that the retailer was chasing the ‘paedophile pound', an extraordinary new segment dreamed up by child protection consultant Shy Keenan.

Primark is no stranger to controversy, having already been through the Panorama wringer for its manufacturing habits. But it is usually incredibly canny with what it sticks on its rails. In fact that's been key to its success: its ability to retain a sense of ‘must-have' among fawning fashionistas, while flogging everything dirt cheap, has enabled it to emerge from the recession as one of the high street's genuine success stories.

It should have perhaps have argued that its pink bikinis were in fact aimed at size-zero adults - at only £4 a pop they could have passed for classic Primark fare: so cheap you'd may as well buy it, even if it is going straight in the bin.


In today's bulletin:

Inflation busts 3% as cost of transport soars
10.1% profit eruption as Tesco puts in seismic performance
Primark still looking sharp
IoD calls for £80bn red tape bonfire
MT Expert: How to stay grounded in a growth spurt

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