They say no publicity is bad publicity, but as allegations about Primark’s sourcing came in thick and fast, questioning its ethics, the old adage started to look flawed.
However the damaging revelations apparently did little to drive shoppers away from Primark stores. Its sparkling results this week, and hordes of shoppers encountered at every visit to its shops, would suggest the claims did not cut very deep.
But they may well have done eventually, and Primark has reacted very effectively to address concerns.
It has doubled the number of audits carried out in the last year alone, for instance. Primark also hired Katherine Kirk as its first ethical trade director and seems to be tackling the issues head on.
In its latest report, Labour Behind the Label highlighted Primark’s progress, praising it for the lengths to which it has gone to improve its ethical standing.
Only last year it criticised the retailer for what it called a “disappointing and unconvincing” submission to its report.
This year however, Labour Behind the Label, notes significant improvements. Although it points out that Primark has a long way to go, it commended the chain for so swiftly raising its standards.
It is hard to condemn the extraordinary success of Primark – it is one of the strongest fashion businesses of recent years and has changed the shape of the high street. However critics have said again and again that if a T-shirt costs £2 you have to question how it can be so cheap.
If Primark’s ethical initiatives continue to move at the pace it has in the last months there will be far less likelihood of negative press and Primark will be free to keep enjoying its success both here and abroad with no more controversial BBC documentaries to worry about.
The bad press that fashion retailers used to get questioning the ethics of their sourcing has become rarer these days - long may that continue.
A less weighty subject – or perhaps not if you are a Newcastle United fan – is the plan by Mike Ashley to change the name of much-loved football ground St James’ Park to sportsdirect.com@St James’ Park.
The decision has not been received well by the fans, who have had a tempestuous relationship with Ashley since he bought the club in 2007.
This, many fans believe, is an insult to the club’s heritage.
It will be interesting to see how many hits Sports Direct’s website gets from the north east in the coming months.