Value fashion retailer Primark enjoyed an “outstanding” 16 weeks’ trading to 5 January, with sales up 25% and “very strong” like-for-like sales growth.

The Associated British Foods-owned business has expanded its retail selling space by 1.1m sq ft – or 14% – over the past year, opening 14 new stores in this trading period.

These included six new shops in Spain, four in the UK, one each in Germany and the Netherlands, and the company's first two stores in Austria.

Operating profit margin was up thanks to lower cotton prices and better trading.

Primark said it expected to add a further 200,000 sq ft of space this year, including a new store in Frankfurt's Zeil shopping centre.

The company's capital expenditure on new stores and refurbishments is expected to be at similar levels to last year.

“Primark continues to strengthen its position as the one-stop destination for families at the value end of the fashion market,” said Anusha Couttigane, retail consultant at analyst Conlumino.

“Although the pace of expansion will slow considerably towards the end of the financial year, its planned openings in Manchester, Newcastle and Frankfurt will extend this diverse offer further afield, tapping into even more regions where fashion is valued and competitive value fashion is in high demand.

“In the light of this, we can expect Primark to continue in its trajectory towards sparkling full-year results.”

Meanwhile, Panmure Research put a value of GBP7.78bn (US$12.47bn) on Primark, factoring in continued growth this year.