The Irish clothing retailer Primark is expected to suffer a loss of sales of some £430 million (€476.1m-$579.1m) this autumn due to the second round of local Covid-19 lockdowns, according to its parent company, Associated British Foods (ABF).

The operating costs of the stores which were closed were reduced by some 25 percent during this period of closure and all orders placed with suppliers have been honored, it claims.

Stores in Primark’s major markets of the Republic of Ireland, England, France and Belgium reopened last week and sales have since been very strong in each of the markets. The retailer has extended the opening hours during the festive season in most of its stores in the Republic of Ireland and England to cater for the anticipated higher customer demand and to ensure a safer environment by spreading shopping hours over a longer period.

In a small number of markets trading hours and store occupancy levels continue to be restricted and uncertainty about further temporary store closures in the short-term remain, the company pointed out.

Primark still has 34 stores temporarily closed, including all stores in Northern Ireland and Austria. This represents 7 percent of its total retail selling space compared to 62 percent when the highest number of stores were closed in November.

Since the start of its financial year, Primark has opened new stores in the U.S.: American Dream, New Jersey, and Sawgrass Mills, Florida. ABF said that the success of the new store openings in the U.S. and the like-for-like performance in stores that have reopened  are ”very encouraging, reinforcing our confidence in the acceleration of our U.S. store opening programme,” it add.

It noted that Primark had a very strong customer response to the opening of its first store in Rome, last week. On Dec. 4, the Irish retailer opened its 50th store in Spain, in León. Primark currently has 389 stores and 16.5 million square feet of retail selling space.

ABF expects Primark to post higher sales and profits in the full financial year compared with the previous year and is scheduled to continue expanding its retail network.