Primark’s finance boss has vowed to offer “the best value on the high street” in the wake of rival retailers’ planned price hikes.
John Bason, finance director of the fashion retailer’s parent Associated British Foods, told Retail Week that Primark planned to absorb associated costs to its UK business owing to currency fluctuations over the upcoming financial year.
The retailer reported a 1% rise in its operating profits but its first fall in full-year like-for-likes sales in 15 years as sales slipped in the UK and Germany.
However, Bason was adamant that the retailer had no immediate plans to pass on the costs of the pound’s falling value to its customers in the year ahead.
“What I will guarantee is that we will remain the best value on the high street,” he said.
“People are talking about price increases, but what most of them are not saying is by how much or when and so that’s why we’ve been saying to the market today that in our financial year we are not assuming any price increases in the UK.”
Bason said the retailer intended to maintain Primark’s prices until next August, upon which it would review the strategy dependent on the level of inflation in the UK market.
Primark joins Marks & Spencer boss Steve Rowe, who has also vowed to keep prices down for customers despite the devaluation of the pound, although Next said it would put prices up as much as 5% next year.
Primark’s finance boss said the fashion retailer was “in a position of strength” based on the performance of its parent company, which reported a 47% surge in pre-tax profits during the same period.
“What that does is give ABF the strength to make sure the Primark business model is not comprised,” said Bason, who added that the retailer would “take price increases on the nose in terms of our margins”.
Bason also said the retailer is confident in its UK Christmas sales based on the strength of its range and seasonable weather, although he would not be drawn on how much he expected sales to rise.
“The sustainability and appeal of Primark are the things that have kept me an absolute believer in the Primark model over the years, and at times of uncertainty that is even more the case,” he said.