Thursday 19 September 2019

Penneys to roll out cafes, nail bars, salons - but no online store

Success: Primark CEO Paul Marchant. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Success: Primark CEO Paul Marchant. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Penneys is to introduce services such as cafes, nail bars and beauty studios in a significant number of new and existing stores, the CEO of parent company Primark, Paul Marchant has told the Sunday Independent.

The retailer has enjoyed huge success with its biggest ever store opening in Birmingham, England, which has a Disney cafe, Disney shops, a Harry Potter shop, a men's barbers and full beauty studio.

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Mr Marchant said that the Birmingham store has been a ''game changer'' for the company, which has 37 shops in Ireland and 373 in total across the world. "I would think a significant number of our stores will be planned going forward with a beauty or food and beverage offer or maybe both," he said. "We see it as a really important enhancement to our existing product offer.

"We have quite an aggressive expansion plan for our services."

He said that beauty services such as nail bars and brow bars were a natural fit, given the company's expansion into its own label make-up and beauty ranges.

The Dublin-based company which is known as Penneys in Ireland and as Primark internationally, is 50 years in business this year.

Mr Marchant also addressed concerns that fast fashion chains such as Penneys/Primark fed into so-called disposable fashion. This trend has come under fire as an unsustainable attitude toward clothing. "I think the phrase disposable fashion is a really bad one, that you can wear it once, you throw it away," he said. "We absolutely do not produce clothes that we want people to throw away, we want to produce clothes which genuinely have a longevity and can be worn over many, many, many, many wears. We believe that just because we offer great value, it doesn't make our products any more disposable than anybody else's."

Mr Marchant said that the company shares 98pc of its supplier factories with other retailers, including luxury brands.

Paul Marchant, chief executive of Primark. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Paul Marchant, chief executive of Primark. Photo: Steve Humphreys

However, he said he was aware of that trend for one-wear clothing. "We do recognise that we live in an Instagram generation, where people want to wear something once and maybe not be seen or photographed in it a second time," he said. "We really can't affect that."

But the company is also aware of the growing environmental and sustainability concerns over ''disposable fashion''.

"We definitely see that move towards people clothes-sharing, recycling their clothes, buying secondhand, buying vintage. We have responsibility to change and evolve our model to suit customers' demands."

He also said that the company was comfortable with not having any online shopping presence at the moment. The company has looked at a click and collect shopping option but is unlikely to introduce online shopping within the next two years.

Primark was founded by the recently deceased Arthur Ryan in 1969 and is owned by Associated British Foods, which is majority owned by the Weston family.

Sunday Independent

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