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Coronavirus: Primark to open new stores abroad amid second spike fears

A customer carries bags of shopping as they leave Primark in Oxford Street. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA

Primark will go ahead with plans to open five new stores in the US, France and Poland this year, it’s owner Associated British Foods (ABF.L) has said.

High street sales had plummeted by 75% since March due store closures during the UK’s 12-week lockdown, resulting in a loss of about £650m ($812m) every month. But sales have been “encouraging” after re-opening all but eight of its 375 stores since 4 July, ABF said.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the company said sales in the first week of reopening in England and Wales were “ahead of the same week last year,” generating about £133m, despite predictions of a major hit to profits.

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ABF warned that the COVID-19 crisis could result in a £600m hit to annual profits.

However, children's wear, leisure clothes and nightwear, as well as summer fashion items, such as shorts and T-shirts, are currently in high demand, Primark’s owner said.

Sales of men's travel and formalwear have been “unsurprisingly weak,” it added.

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ABF will go ahead with plans to open new Primark stores in the Belle Epine and Plaisir shopping centres in Paris, France, as well as the first ever Primark store in Poland, in the capital Warsaw, later this year.

There are also plans to expand existing stores in Malaga, Spain and Lisbon, Portugal in the coming months.

Plans to open US stores in New Jersey and Florida will also go ahead, but retail restrictions due to COVID-19 may push back the opening dates, ABF said.