Belfast Telegraph

Primark is always on the money

By Donald C McFetridge

In their latest trading statement, Primark reported a 22% increase in like-for-like sales in the last quarter.

This means they are, effectively, up 17% across the year, with no fewer than three new stores opening in Paris.

It seems that there is no limit to their international success, as they have cleverly managed to convert French consumers to their inimitable brand offering.

Another new store was added to their portfolio yesterday in Bath. They also have plans for further expansion internationally.

It strikes me, therefore, that Marks & Spencer and other retailers in the middle fashion market have a great deal to learn from Primark:

  • They give customers what they want, with stock constantly changing and lead times from catwalk to high street becoming shorter.
  • They get their price point absolutely perfect every time and, as a result, consumers who used to shop at M&S for wardrobe staples now flock to Primark instead.
  • They use contemporary visual merchandising and point-of-sale techniques, with attractive summer displays both in their windows and in-store. It's less of a "jumble sale" these days, as they continue to trade up in terms of their merchandising.
  •  They use new technology in-store to enhance sales. Videos are no longer just for high-end retailers; Primark use them, too, and customers can see what the clothes will look like on catwalk models before purchasing.
  • They sell fast fashion at throwaway prices, which appeals to cash-strapped consumers who still want to purchase the latest high street offerings.

Notably, they do not have an online presence for clothes or accessories, yet they manage to outperform their competitors in an incredibly cutthroat retail environment.

Mothercare recently reported that they need to modernise their retail operations.

My advice is: take a look at Primark first.

  • Donald C McFetridge is a retail analyst at the Ulster Business School, University of Ulster

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