Thursday 19 January 2017

Irish retail chain Penneys makes history with first American store

Published 11/08/2015 | 02:30

The faux fur coat, a ‘star’ from the A/W15 collection
The faux fur coat, a ‘star’ from the A/W15 collection
The faux fur coat, a ‘star’ from the A/W15 collection
A monochrome look from Penneys’ new A/W15 collection
Adverts for the forthcoming assault on the American retail scene
Adverts for the forthcoming assault on the American retail scene
Primark CEO Paul Marchant (right) meeting with Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, Primark founder Arthur Ryan (second left), and US Product Controller Mary Beth Kelley, in Penneys in Dublin last year. Photo: Garrett Quinn

"Amazing fashion, amazing prices" is the slogan for Penneys/Primark as it makes Irish retail history and brings its fast-fashion product to the US.

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The chain, which first opened on Dublin's Mary Street in 1969, is opening its first American store in the heart of Boston on September 10 and its debut is being keenly watched on both sides of the Atlantic.

Primark will make its new home in Boston's historic Burnham Building, formerly home to the iconic Filene's store.

And with a giant store of 77,000sq.ft over five storeys, it will be one of the anchor tenants at the Millennium Tower project, a $630m (€570m) multi-use skyscraper at Downtown Crossing.

A monochrome look from Penneys’ new A/W15 collection
A monochrome look from Penneys’ new A/W15 collection

Primark has begun the process of introducing itself to the American buying public, who may not yet know about the European brand.

It launched its website in America yesterday and while it will be solely a bricks and mortar retailer, with no online sales, the website is showcasing its looks which are keenly priced - not least because the retailer buys its products in dollars, so there are no fluctuating conversion rates to push up prices.

Read more: Can Penneys succeed where so many others have failed?

The company has been on quite a retail journey over the last 46 years. After moving first to the UK, Primark now has 289 stores across nine countries.

Adverts for the forthcoming assault on the American retail scene
Adverts for the forthcoming assault on the American retail scene

America will be its tenth country and after that comes Italy, where Primark intends opening a store in Arese in late spring 2016.

The board of Primark, who are based in Dublin, picked Boston because of its access to the all-important northeast corridor.

Within two months of the Boston opening, they plan to open in Philadelphia, at the King of Prussia Mall, and they will open a distribution centre in Bethlehem, also in Pennsylvania.

Primark has inked a deal with Sears, the well-known department store to open seven outlets, including on Staten Island and in Queens.

Adverts for the forthcoming assault on the American retail scene
Adverts for the forthcoming assault on the American retail scene

This week, Primark begin reaching out to the US style press with details of its autumn/winter collection (pictured on these pages).

The retailer did a shoot with American models and has designed a magazine to distribute to "key influencers" in the fashion world, including bloggers and social media over the next week or two.

Primark has an advertising campaign showing details of the clothes, prices and the 11am opening on September 10.

The buy for the US market is made at the Mary Street headquarters, so the clothes will be the same as those available in Irish stores and some European countries. But there will be one exception - size.

Paul Marchant, CEO of Primark, said: "We have chosen the ideal location for our northeastern US home in the city of Boston."

He added: "We are eager to become part of the community and formally introduce shoppers to the Primark brand."

Irish Independent

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