The owner of Primark has forecast profits “at least at the top end” of previous guidance after the fashion chain bounced back from lockdown with better-than-expected trading. 

Associated British Foods – the parent company of Primark, which also has large interests in sugar, grocery, agriculture and ingredients – reported strong trading at its Primark stores in the latest quarter. As a result, it expects a “significant reduction” in the £284 million exceptional charge flagged in April against surplus inventory. 

The group has previously forecast a full-year adjusted operating profit for Primark in a range of £300-£350m, down from £913m the previous year. 

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John Bason, chief financial officer of AB Foods, highlighted the latest four-week UK market data for sales in all channels, including online, which Primark does not have. This showed Primark achieved its highest-ever value and volume shares for this time of year. 

“If there were any fears about Primark coming back having been closed for three months, my goodness this (update) scorches it,” he said. 

However, core earnings for the group as a whole for the year to September 12 will be “significantly below” the previous year. The hit to Primark’s profit when its stores across Europe were closed is seen as outweighing “very strong” increases in profits for its food businesses. 

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AB Foods’ grocery division includes brands such as Kingsmill bread, Twinings tea, Ovaltine and Jordans cereal. 

Shopper numbers across all UK retail destinations rose by 0.4 per cent during the week to September 5 compared to the previous week, according to new data from Springboard. 

The market researcher attributed the rise to the return of more people to the workplace after the August bank holiday in England. Footfall rose 2.6% in UK high streets where many workplaces are located, but dipped 0.9% and 2.7% respectively in retail parks and shopping centres. 

The weekly outcome meant that on a year-on-year basis, footfall was down by 25%, marking the best change since the start of lockdown. 

Aegon Asset Management has completed its transition to become a “truly global” business with fresh branding and a new global website. 

The refresh will see the Kames Capital and TKP Investments brands retired following the move in February to bring Aegon’s regional businesses under a single operating structure. The group has also created four global investment platforms: fixed income, real assets, equities and multi-asset & solutions. 

 Aegon currently manages £331 billion for clients world-wide, employing more than 1,200 people in 17 locations. Its new strapline, investing “beyond borders”, aims to convey this global reach. 

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Although the TKP Investments brand will disappear, Aegon said it remains fully committed to its multi-manager business. Neither of the brand name changes will impact the firm’s investment processes or the management of client portfolios or funds. 

“We believe we stand out for our global research and asset-class expertise, pursuit of consistent and long-term outperformance, and focus on providing excellence in servicing the unique needs of our clients locally,” chief executive Bas NieuweWeme said. “Indeed, within each of our four investment platforms we will continue to offer a distinct product suite.”