Associated British Foods PLC Finance Director John Bason said on Thursday that he agreed with the Bank of England's view that falling prices would ease pressure on cash-strapped British shoppers this year.

I do share their optimism, Bason told Reuters. I think that the pressures of 2011 were VAT increases but also the background of rising commodity prices ... These turned towards the end of 2011 so I think the inflationary pressure really has eased.

Bason declined to give a figure for like-for-like sales growth at the company's Primark discount fashion outlets over the Christmas period but said in a telephone interview that it was extremely good when compared to the British high street as a whole.