Primark will not prioritise the creation of a transactional online business despite the rise of ecommerce during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Primark parent ABF finance director John Bason told Retail Week he expected the value fashion powerhouse’s appeal through bricks-and-mortar stores to continue after it comes out of UK lockdown in a fortnight.

He said despite not having an online business that could have traded when stores were shut during the pandemic, at a cost in lost sales of £650m a month, launching an ecommerce operation was “not a priority”.

Bason said the general growth of online apparel retail partly reflected the lack of relevance of some retailers’ stores before the crisis started, but that Primark’s value-for-money proposition would continue to draw shoppers to its shops.

Primark ranked in a YouGov poll of millennial consumers’ top 10 brands, he said, and its market share growth over a long period showed the strength of its offer. “Our relevance is that we’ve got the best prices around,” he said.

“To open 153 stores on that day and to open a new store – if that’s not coming back in a big way I don’t know what is”

John Bason, ABF

Primark expects to make a splash by reopening its 153 branches in England on June 15. It will unveil a new branch in Manchester’s Trafford Centre on the same day – the first day that ‘non-essential’ retailers can open again in England following their closure to counter the spread of coronavirus.

The retailer had promised to “come back with a bang”, and Bason said the scale and speed of its reopening and the product variety that will be available showed its commitment to making an impact with a successful return.

He said: “To open 153 stores on that day and to open a new store – if that’s not coming back in a big way I don’t know what is.”

Other clothing retailers, such as Next and department store group John Lewis, intend to open in phases, in the former’s case starting with out-of-town branches where social distancing is easier to manage.

The health emergency left Primark with £1.5bn of stock on hand as its shops overseas began to reopen and it had committed to a further £400m of orders.

However, the retailer said that the nature of the stock held, such as staple items, means it can be sold “in the normal course of business… without the need for special discounting beyond our normal practices”.

Bason said Primark would be well placed because of the resulting mix of summer and autumn stock.