By Jonathan Davies

Milan - one of the world's fashion capitals - famed for designer brands like Armani, Prada and Versace, is to be the home of Italy's first Primark store.

Dubbed 'Primarni' by the brand's fans, Primark is planning to open three stores in Italy over the next 12 months. It comes months after it announced plans to open its first US stores in Boston in September.

With stores already in the UK, France, Spain and Germany, Italy was the next logical step, said John Bason, finance director of Primark’s parent company Associated British Foods (ABF).

“A lot of this is about the availability of stores … Italy is just a bit more difficult,” said Bason. “Primark will do what it has done time and time again. We will open a few stores, let’s understand the variations [in the market] and then have the confidence to accelerate.”

Primark's like-for-like sales in the UK rose 1-2% in the 16 weeks to 20 June, despite a cold start to spring which impacted on early sales of summer lines.

“Instead of going backwards, we have seen the strength of Primark and it has gone ahead further,” Mr Bason said.

Shares in Associated British Foods jumped 5% after the news.