DISCOUNT fashion chain Primark offset the squeeze on high street spending – by absorbing some of the rising cost of cotton and the hike in VAT to attract cash-strapped consumers.

Owner Associated British Foods said Primark, which has a store at New Street in Huddersfield and 220 stores in the UK and overseas, increased sales by 13% in the 40 weeks to June 25. Takings rose by a further 2% in the final 16 weeks of the period.

However, the group warned that its policy of not passing on all of its rising costs to its customers will leave its profit margins lower in the second half of its financial year.