Primark owner Associated British Foods (ABF) said second half profits are set to be ahead of expectations after the value fashion retailer delivered a strong finish to the year.

Over the 12 months to 14 September, sales at Primark are expected to be 22% higher than last year, benefiting from the strengthening of the euro, and up 21% at constant currency.

The company attributed the gains to an increase in selling space, like-for-like growth of approximately 5% for the full year, and better sales densities in its new stores.

Primark recorded an "exceptional" start to the year, with the benefit of seasonal autumn weather in 2011. In the second half, growth was subdued during the cold weather in March and April, summer trading was strong and built upon the success of the same period last year, ABF said.

Operating profit margin was also higher than last year, reflecting the benefit of lower cotton prices and lower markdowns.

"The strong trading over the summer also resulted in lower markdowns and the second half margin will now be in line with the first half, beating our expectations," the company said.