Associated British Foods said 7% of Primark’s 389 stores remain shut, including all those in Northern Ireland and Austria © Getty Images

Fashion chain Primark has estimated that the most recent lockdowns cost it £430m in lost sales but is still forecasting higher overall sales and profits for its full year ending September 2021.

Associated British Foods, which owns the brand, said on Friday that 7 per cent of Primark’s 389 stores remain shut, including all those in Northern Ireland and Austria, compared with 62 per cent at the height of lockdowns in November.

John Bason, head of finance at ABF, told the Financial Times that sales in reopened European stores had been “phenomenal”.

“Sales after this second lockdown have been much stronger than after the first,” he said.

The retailer, which does not sell online, is preparing to extend its opening hours in Ireland and England ahead of Christmas.

Mr Bason said Primark would not reconsider its position on online shopping. “There is a big cost to home deliveries. It works if the consumer wants to pay a higher price . . . What differentiates us is our very low price point,” he said, adding that Primark had returned to its pre-pandemic market share ahead of the autumn lockdowns.

Mr Bason believes online shopping would become less popular as lockdown restrictions ease because “it’s great fun to go out and shop”.

“It is not for me to predict what the immediate outlook is for the new calendar year, but I’d be surprised if it is remotely as severe,” he said.

Primark’s pre-coronavirus sales were about £650m a month. The brand said it had managed to reduce store operating costs by 25 per cent during the most recent lockdowns.

ABF’s share price, which has fallen 12 per cent since February, was up 2 per cent on Friday morning.

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