Sunday 8 December 2019

High street store that took world by storm

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

YOU sometimes have to pinch yourself to remember that what is on its way to becoming a global retail phenomenon started life on Mary Street in Dublin.

For years, Primark was really just another other high street brand amid a sea of others. It performed very well, but confined to the borders of Ireland, where we know it as Penneys, and the UK, it was arguably destined to plateau unless it could break down the walls. It did, and it did it with a sledgehammer.

It's only eight years since Primark owner Associated British Foods (ABF) first dipped its toes into the mainland European market. It took on Spanish fashion goliath Zara on its home turf in Madrid in 2006.

In ABFs' last financial year, Primark generated revenue of £4.2bn (€5.3bn) and an operating profit of £512m (€645m). The figures were up 22pc and 44pc respectively on the previous year.

The chain accounted for 32pc of ABF's total revenue and 43pc of the group's total profits.

But not content with invading Europe, Primark, which is still headquartered in Dublin, has now squared up to the US market.

The retailer plans to open its first American outlet, in Boston, late next year. It will occupy the historic Burnham Building, a location that has been vacant since 2006. Appropriately enough, over 100 years ago the building was the epicentre of a public sensation when the city's Filene family opened a department store there.

History is likely to repeat itself.

Irish Independent

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