Business Irish

Thursday 28 August 2014

Penneys: the secret behind its success

Bairbre Powe, Fashion editor

Published 17/01/2014 | 02:30

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Arthur Ryan, the founder of Penneys/Primark, which has grown into retail giant. Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland.
Arthur Ryan, the founder of Penneys/Primark, which has grown into retail giant. Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland.

Winter sun was shining yesterday as Primark announced a 14pc jump in sales and, to match the upbeat weather, the chain's 268 stores across nine countries were already on to the next page, offering everything from cutaway bikinis to chic, designer-look sarongs and attractive catwalk looks from sports luxe to gingham and the all-important 'black to mono' story.

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Primark's success is driven by a management team located in Chapel House on Dublin's Parnell Street who have honed a fastidiously well- run, keenly edited approach to fast fashion and CEO Paul Marchant's mantra is "amazing fashion, amazing prices".

High-volume orders help keep the prices down and Primark orders core products like T-shirts and jeans in seven figure sums. However, its success in the fast-changing 'value' sector against rivals like H&M, Forever 21 and Zara is augmented by a vigilant eye on the clock.

CLEVER

Timing is everything for Primark, from clever interpretation of the correct catwalk trends that Primark shoppers will want to buy to getting stock to store in the right volume and on time to whet customer's appetites across Ireland, Britain, Spain, Holland, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Austria and France.

In Dublin yesterday, the discount fashion chain offered everything from on-trend horizontal striped separates to beachwear to St Patrick's Day socks and and the ubiquitous leprechaun onesie, a leisurewear gimmick that has proved hugely popular for Primark, along with its humorous Christmas jumpers which contributed to that 14pc jump in sales in 16 weeks.

After five decades in business, Primark isn't sitting back on its value retailing heels. It's delivering a lively mix of designer-look gems at discount prices. With each territory comes a new learning experience. In Spain, for example, the big family outing to the store will nearly always start in the children's department which is not the case in Germany. In Scandinavia, jeans and separates are ordered in darker shades compared with warm tones for the Iberian peninsula.

Increased PR activity, strong editorial photography and a Facebook following of six figures has added to the Primark march on Europe and it helps too that they have a commitment to sustainability and ethical trading.

Irish Independent

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