- Associated British Foods upgraded its profit outlook for the first half, after its Primark budget clothing chain and its grocery business both saw margins improve.

But the company warned it would not be able to mitigate a loss of sales at Primark caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

'For the first half, adjusted operating profit will be ahead of our previous expectations, mainly due to higher margins for Primark and grocery,' the company said.

'As a result, adjusted earnings per share for the first half will now be ahead of last year on both a lease-adjusted and a reported basis.'

But following closures to stores in France, Spain and Austria, accounting for 30% of Primark's sales, and a decline in like-for-like sales in UK over the last two weeks, the company said it did not expect to significantly mitigate the effect of the contribution lost from these sales.

Still, it was too early to provide earnings guidance for the remainder of the current financial year, given the effect of Covid-19 on Primark's sales, the company said.

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