Primark owner Associated British Foods has said sales at the retailer were 81% ahead of last year in its third quarter due to all shops being open following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

This contrasts with the corresponding period last year when the majority of stores were closed until the middle of April. In addition, sales in the quarter were 4% higher than the comparable pre-Covid period three years ago.

ABF said like-for-like sales in the UK and Ireland improved markedly, although trading in continental Europe only started to improve at the end of the quarter following the removal of remaining Covid restrictions.

Looking specifically at the UK, total sales in the quarter were well ahead of last year with a 61% increase, and 2% ahead of pre-Covid levels three years ago. Meanwhile like-for-like sales were 4% below.

The company said the retailer’s spring/summer women’s fashion ranges, which include brightly coloured dresses, heels and blouses. have been well received by customers. In addition, Primark stores in city centres have benefited from a marked return of tourism and people moving back to office working.

As a result of the performance, ABF said Primark remains on track to deliver a full year adjusted operating profit margin of some 10%.