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Weston family in £200mln dividend pay-out as profits rise at Associated British Foods

An interim payment of £50mln was paid out in July, with another £144mln due early next year after AB Foods hiked its dividend on the back of “another year of progress”
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Through their Wittington Investments vehicle, the Westons own 54.5% of AB Foods

The Weston family is to pocket almost £200mln in dividends from Associated British Foods plc (LON:ABF) this year after the Primark owner posted a rise in annual sales and profits.

Through their Wittington Investments vehicle, relatives of AB Foods’ founder, Garfield Weston, own 431.5mln shares in the £19bn FTSE 100 company, or 54.5%.

READ: Is it time for ABF to spin off Primark?

This morning (Tuesday), AB Foods hiked its total dividend by 10% to 45p on the back of another solid year for the group, meaning Wittington Investments will receive £194.2mln.

Just over £50mln of that was paid out in July as part of the interim dividend, with the reminder due in early January.

Some of the money will go to the Garfield Weston Foundation, although a chunk will go to the family members themselves.

Associated British Foods, which also owns the Twinings brand, announced the dividend rise alongside its full-year results.

Group revenue edged up 1% to £15.6bn in the year ended September 15, while adjusted pre-tax profits rose 5% to £1.37bn.

Primark still the star

Value fashion chain Primark bucked the general high street downturn to post a 15% rise in adjusted operating profits to £843mln as sales climbed 6% to £7.48bn.

AB Foods has been trying to crack America with its star asset and said it was “very pleased” with trading across the pond, particularly at its ninth and latest store in Brooklyn, New York.

The company’s grocery, agriculture and ingredients businesses also reported “strong profit performances”.

That helped to more than offset the well-known struggles in ABF’s sugar arm, which has been battered by a slump in sugar prices.

Adjusted operating profits in that division more than halved to £123mln in the period, forcing it to shut down a plant in Hull.

Further investment planned

“This was another year of progress for the group,” said chief executive George Weston.

“Strong profit performances were delivered by each of Primark, Grocery, Agriculture and Ingredients. These more than offset the decline in Sugar profit which was caused primarily by low prices in the first year after the structural change in the EU sugar regime.”

He added: “Looking ahead, management have clear plans for further investment and for pursuing opportunities for business improvement.”

As of September 15, AB Foods had net cash of £614mln.

Shares rose 2% to 2,437p in early deals on Tuuesday.

--Updates for additional info and share price--

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Associated British Foods plc Timeline

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