Apparel and food retail group Associated British Foods (ABF) has posted a nine per cent rise in first half pre-tax profit, owing to a strong performance from its discount clothing chain Primark.

For the 24 weeks to end-February, the company's pre tax profit rose to £223 million, up from £204m in the same period a year earlier.

Primark, meanwhile, enjoyed a five per cent increase in same-store sales and a 19 per cent year-on-year jump in operating profits for the half.

"This is another strong set of results which has been delivered against a background of significant movements both in key commodity input costs and currency exchange rates," ABF chief executive Peter Jackson said.

The group's first half turnover remained flat on the previous year's figure at £2.3 billion.