BUSINESS LIVE: ABF profits surge; McColl’s scrambles for funding

BUSINESS LIVE: Primark-owner ABF’s profits surge; McColl’s scrambles for funding; BP dumps Rosneft stake

Associated British Foods has forecast first-half sales and profits ‘strongly ahead’ of the previous year and ahead of pre-Covid levels, reflecting an improved performance from its Primark fashion business.

Primark sales for the 24 weeks to 5 March were expected to be well over 60 per cent ahead of last year at constant currency with an operating profit margin of 11 per cent.

One of Britain’s biggest convenience store chains McColl’s Retail Group is working with banks to secure new funding to prevent the company’s collapse.

Responding to press reports over the weekend, McColl’s confirmed it was attempting to reach a longer-term agreement with lenders, following weak first-quarter trade which it says will lead to full-year earnings coming in at ‘slightly behind current market expectations’.

Oil giant BP is ditching its controversial 20 per cent stake in the Russian energy group Rosneft ‘with immediate effect’, following the country’s invasion of Ukraine and the emergence of international sanctions.

CEO Bernard Looney, who has also resigned from the board of Rosneft, said on Sunday: ‘I have been deeply shocked and saddened by the situation unfolding in Ukraine.

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ABF’s improved performance reflects all Primark stores remaining open and trading throughout the period, except for short periods in Austria and The Netherlands.