Booming value chain Primark says it is well prepared for the Christmas season and beyond, even though its warehouse in Lutterworth, Leicestershire was recently gutted by fire. spoke to Jeff Lancaster, head of external relations, who said that the company's first priority following the fire had been to bring orders forward.

Lancaster confirmed that the company had chartered a large aircraft to bring in 400 tons worth of foreign orders that would otherwise not have arrived in Britain soon enough.

Lancaster said: "We won't rule out problems with certain goods, for example very popular items such as the military jacket."

However, he concluded that the company was taking "appropriate action" to make business as smooth as possible and sounded positive that Primark would overcome any sales losses suffered as a result of the fire.

The company plans an aggressive expansion programme for next year, Lancaster said, with 47 stores to being opened in the UK. Hull will tomorrow become home to the business's latest retail destination.

Primark is also planning to open two stores in Madrid next spring.

Primark, which is owned by Associated British Foods, has seen its popularity soar in recent months and has even seen its designs celebrated in style bible Vogue.

Profits leapt 30% to £108m last year, on a 17% sales rise to £1bn. Second-half same-store sales grew 12%, leading to full-year growth of 9%.