The Primark chain, which accounts for around a third of group earnings, saw half-year profits ahead as shoppers looked for bargains, while profits at its sugar business rose sharply as it gained from higher prices in Britain, Spain and Africa.
AB Sugar and Primark both performed strongly, demonstrating continuing momentum. We expect substantial growth in both adjusted operating profit and adjusted earnings per share for the group for the full year, said group Chief Executive George Weston in a results statement.
The London-based food and retailing group posted a 5 percent rise in earnings to 34.4 pence for its 24-week half-year to March 3 compared to a forecast of 33.5p from a Reuters survey of eight brokers. The half year dividend rose 8 percent to 8.5 pence a share.
The group's shares, 55 percent owned by the family of the chief executive, closed at 1,215 pence on Monday.
(Reporting by David Jones)