Despite third quarter like-for-like sales being hit by unseasonal weather, especially in April, UK-based discount apparel chain Primark has posted a solid 40-week performance – with a strong third quarter boosting overall growth.
Primark sales benefitted from the weakness of the pound towards the end of the quarter, and from the 800,000 sqft in selling space added since the beginning of the financial year.
The company ended the period with 310 stores and 12 million sqft of selling space. Primark is continuing its march throughout Europe and the US, and opened 11 stores in the quarter, including three in the UK, its third in the US and its first in Arese, northwest of Milan in Italy.
Early trading in these new stores has been promising, especially in its recent US and Italian ventures – while new stores in France continue to impress, highlighting the appetite for the brand in the country. Having previously been overly cautious with its store expansion strategy, Primark’s recent bold attitude is set to continue with plans to add a net 300,000 sqft of space in the fourth quarter – including two more stores in the US, and also doubling its Creteil store in Paris.
Despite the uncertainty brought on by the UK’s EU referendum result, Primark remains optimistic and will forge ahead with its expansion plans. Given its strong value proposition and the clear demand for its offer, Primark is well placed to benefit as shoppers’ discretionary spend comes under further pressure – though retaining its competitive pricing will be crucial.
Consumers now place far more importance on quality and value for money – ensuring Primark cannot scrimp on fabric, quality or fit. While Primark continues to shun the online channel, it must invest in its in-store experience, with focus needed on reducing queuing times at fitting rooms and at the till, as well as customer service.
- Kate Ormond is a senior analyst at Verdict Retail.