Saturday 3 December 2016

Boston gets a taste of bargain hunting Irish-style as Penneys opens first store in US

Published 11/09/2015 | 02:30

Shoppers walk past balloons and cameras at they enter a Primark store in Boston
Shoppers walk past balloons and cameras at they enter a Primark store in Boston
Primark in Boston
Primark in Boston

What is it about the entrepreneurial Irish shopkeepers and Boston?

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The first-ever shop in the Massachusetts capital was opened by an Irish emigrant, John Coggan, in 1630.

Now it is the turn of the rapidly expanding, fast fashion brand Primark to brighten up the Boston retail landscape with a multi-million dollar investment - and the opening prices clearly had locals excited.

So excited, in fact, that they queued outside the iconic former Filene's Basement store in the heart of Boston's Downtown Crossing shopping district.

The Dublin success story started out in Mary Street in 1969. But Primark is now in 10 countries - Boston is the 292th store to open and a new German store will push the total to 293 tomorrow.

The Boston store underlines just how much work the Dublin board of directors have put into their expansion plans to "take America". Their ambitious #primarkUSA plans will see another seven stores opening in rapid succession.

The giant 77,000sq.ft store at Downtown Crossing is generating 'primania' on social media, and while the stock on the shelves is the very same as we have in Ireland, this is PrimarkUSA.

Firstly, there's the 8am opening time, aimed at catching the early-morning Boston commuters. The store is strategically located above a busy train station.

This 8am opening is two hours earlier than their nearest trends-driven rival, H&M, a 45-second walk away.

The store environment is also different, with a generous dose of pampering. Couches are dotted around the store, there is free wifi, plus banks of rechargers where customers can power up their smart phones.

This serves to lengthen the 'dwell' time of Boston's student population of 250,000-300,000. However, the biggest difference Irish customers will note are the roomy, individual dressing rooms, 84 in all, located across the stores, and there are restrooms too in the menu of customer services.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Paul Marchant, CEO of Primark, said: "We are confident that our proposition will be liked by the American consumer.

"We really think that our prices and our fashion will stand us in good stead against all of our competitors here. Our only concern is that we don't know this market, but the important thing is that we learn the lessons quickly and readjust quickly."

Primark director Breege O'Donoghue said John Coggan had opened his store within shouting distance of the site. "No one would have called John Coggan fashion-forward, but he definitely shared a retail-forward approach with Primark."

Irish Independent

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