Associated British Foods has today reported flat first-half earnings, reflecting a near wiping out of profit from its sugar operation that was offset by growth in its other businesses. 

The group owns the Primark fashion chain, food brands such as Ovaltine, Ryvita and Twinings, and major sugar, agriculture and ingredients businesses.

It said today it made adjusted earnings per share of 61.1 pence in the 24 weeks to March 2 on revenue which rose by 1% to £7.53 billion. 

Adjusted operating profit in sugar slumped to just £1m from £106m the same time last year. 

The group had cautioned that sugar profit would be significantly lower this year, reflecting lower European Union sugar prices for contracts negotiated at the end of the last financial year. 

However, it said an upward trend in EU sugar prices should benefit results going forward.

Primark's profit increased 25% in the first half, while grocery's rose 5%. 

For the full 2018-19 year AB Foods maintained its previous guidance for the group of adjusted EPS in line with the 2017-18 outcome. 

AB Foods is majority owned by the family of chief executive George Weston.