The finance chief of Primark parent company ABF believes it is time to rethink accepted wisdom about online retail’s growth trajectory.

John Bason

Source: ABF

John Bason believes the online market ‘looks mature’

John Bason, who will chair Primark’s new strategic advisory board when he steps down shortly as ABF finance director, said online will not grow constantly and looks “mature”.

Primark, which only sells through bricks-and-mortar stores, reported strong growth over Christmas when it increased its share of the total UK clothing, footwear and accessories market by value – including online sales – to 7%, up from 6.5% year on year.

Primark’s performance was in stark contrast to that of some pureplay fashion retailers, such as Asos, and a subdued performance from online more widely.

Bason told Retail Week: “People like being in our stores. We’ve got to move on from that narrative that online just increases all the time. To me, online looks mature.

“Everybody’s tried it, everybody uses it, but you use it at times that suit you and when it suits your pocket. It’s more expensive to have stuff delivered to your home, not surprisingly.”

However, he said that did not mean Primark would not continue to bolster its digital capabilities, following a website relaunch and introduction of in-store product availability information and a click-and-collect trial.

He said: “Everybody’s almost desperate for a Primark transactional capability. Primark’s digital engagement capability is here to stay and a big part of what Primark is.

“We’re collecting data on individual customers. You don’t need to drive to someone’s door for that.” 

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