Value fashion retailer Primark says it is raising its planned investment into refitting stores bought from the Littlewoods chain on strong second-half trading.

The company now aims to transform 1.2 million sq ft of retail space previously taken up by Littlewoods compared with the previously planned 800,000 sq ft.

Total investment into the 40 stores - which will be opened starting from next spring until early 2007 - will total about £500, the company says. Previous estimates had set investment at £375m.

80 of the smaller Littlewoods stores bought are on sale, with a deal expected to be made within the next few weeks.

Primark, which is owned by Associated British Foods, expects to report same-store sales increases of about 12 per cent for the second half of the year and full-year same-store growth of 9 per cent.

The company also said it anticipates operating profit growth to be nearly as high as that seen in the first half after its "businesses in aggregate performed well in the second half of the year".

Associated British Foods acquired 120 Littlewoods stories earlier in 2005 as well as a string of stores from collapsed department store company Allders.