The low value of sterling brought a further boost to the strong performance of Associated British Foods, with a rise in first-quarter revenues of 21%, or 15% on a constant currency basis.

The retail and manufacturing giant reported strong growth in its sugar, agriculture, grocery and ingredients business. And trading at its budget clothing retail chain Primark was in marked contrast with the performance of rivals such as Marks & Spencer, with sales up 18% thanks to an increase in retail space and good like-for-like sales growth.

Its Allied Bakeries subsidiary, which includes Kingsmill bread had "continued to trade well, with an improvement in profit" although it did not provide details of sales.

But ABF warned that growth at its premium teas business had slowed although the performance of Twinings Ovaltine was in line with expectations.

Sales of sugar, comprising its British Sugar and Illovo businesses, were up by 20% for the 16 weeks to 3 January, while the company's ingredients division saw revenue surge by 25% – adjusted from 8% on a constant currency basis.

"As previously highlighted, the group will not be immune from the worsening economic climate and particularly the pressure on consumer spending," ABF said in a statement. "We have budgeted for little change in net earnings for the full year and still anticipate results in line with that expectation."