By Marcus Leach

Primark owners, Associated British Foods, have reported a 12% rise in total sales in the 16 weeks to 7 January, thanks to "exceptional" performances at the budget clothing store.

Sales at Primark were 16% ahead of the same period last year. Like-for-like sales growth was good, with particularly strong trading over the Christmas period after a slower start to the financial year as a result of the unusually warm autumn.

This was also a very active period for new store openings. At 7 January 2012, 232 stores were trading with 7.8 million sq ft of selling space, an increase of 0.5 million sq ft since the financial year end.

Nine new stores were opened including two in Spain, three in Germany, one in each of Portugal and the Netherlands, and two in the UK including our flagship store in Scotland which opened on Princes Street in Edinburgh just before Christmas.

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