Google ‘Primark’ and you’ll find over 23 million search results, which for a brand that doesn’t have an online store that’s pretty impressive. But, that’s part in parcel of the Primark experience. With Primark stores in London, Manchester, Bristol, Liverpool, Charlton, Blackpool, Bath and Bromley (not to forget America as well), it’s that mythic fashion company that’s survived the high street downturn and ridden scandal to success.
It’s not had the traditional fashion success story. There’s no single designer, no logo to champion and no fashion week presence, not to mention it’s owned by an unlikely conglomerate, Associated British Foods (ABF) that’s home to Ryvita and Twinings. Yet, it finds itself in the pages of glossies and in the wardrobes of a sizable chunk of the Great British public. Now it’s launching in the United States with a 50,000 sq ft space in Brooklyn.
Forbes once laid out the seven characteristics that successful brands share - first, audience knowledge, second, uniqueness, followed by passion, consistency, competitiveness, exposure and leadership - unsurprisingly Primark ticks each box. Search for ’Primark near me’ and likely you’ll have one on your closest high street. Step inside and you’ll see mums, dads, grandmothers and toddlers exploring the rails of Primark shoes and suitcases. Its point of difference? Its mass appeal. ‘ At Primark we pride ourselves on offering something for everyone’, explains the brand’s spokesperson. The data backs this up, trend and market analysts Mintel reports that 29 per cent of all clothing purchased in the UK over a 12-month period ending in October 2017 came from Primark.
But what’s so appealing? It’s price, of course. Passionate about consistently offering competitively costing clothes in every sizable town in the UK has led Primark to blossom into a brand with a net worth of£593,050,000in 2017. ‘Our unique selling point is offering the best value on the high street in an amazing store environment’, adds Primark.
As Marks and Spencer flags behind and House of Fraser searches for a buyer, Primark, a cut-price Prada if you will, has proved it can survive an economic crunch with low-cost, high-style items. For summer, Primark dresses are destination pieces, with Ganni-lite wrap silhouettes and Rixo-inspired prints. Primark shoes tempt with trainers and slides that pop with colour and promise fashion credentials. Likewise, Primark bags address need without forsaking the style agenda, look to capacious totes and diminutive tasselled cross body bags to fulfil this purpose.
Though Primark’s clothes come at a cost. A lot has been said about the ethics behind their fast-manufacturing process, their sustainability agenda and their social responsibility but the budget brand is using transparency to reposition itself. A ‘global sourcing map’, released six months ago, shone a spotlight on their 1071 factories. The tranche of intelligence insists the company is selective about the factories they work with and labour sources. When possible they opt for natural and manmade fibres and have worked hard to ensure their supply chain of cotton is as sustainable as possible - decreasing wastewater, investigating chemicals and building local business networks for farming communities. Unlike some luxury brands, like Burberry, that have come under fire for disposing of unsold clothes by burning them, Primark practices a recycling initiative, which donates unsold clothing and samples to the charity Newlife. Meanwhile, all other unwanted materials like used carboards, plastics and hangers are recycled or recovered.
‘Primark has benefited from a squeeze in consumers' finances during and after the financial crisis. Consumer incomes have not yet fully recovered (earnings have only just started to outstrip inflation) and a low-price point remains a priority when shopping for clothes.’ Chana Baram, retail analyst at Mintel told Grazia, ‘A combination of this value-conscious consumer and Primark's product mix has made the retailer the most popular destination in the UK to buy clothing and footwear. Primark knows what its customers want, and its products are fun and on-trend'