Primark owner Associated British Foods boss George Weston has ruled out launching online in the near future and told Retail Week: “Online can’t compete with our bricks and mortar offer”.
Primark, which posted a 44% surge in full year profits today, took its first steps into online retail this year when it launched a short-lived trial on Asos’s website in June. Asos boss Nick Robertson last month revealed it was still in discussions with Primark to make the trial work long term.
Weston conceded: “We need to keep an eye on the online world, which is why we’re launching a new website but it’s about communication rather than sales.”
Primark unveiled its profits jumped to £514m during what he described as a “remarkable” year. Weston said the company was yet to see any uptick from the wider economy and that its performance was down to its own actions.
He said: “It’s a great delivery of our strategy which is great fashion at the lowest price on the high street in a good store environment. Our stores look better than they’ve ever done.”
The retailer, which has 58 stores outside of the UK and Ireland, is set to open its first French store in Marseille before Christmas.
Weston said he was feeling confident about Primark’s French debut. He said: “We’ve never committed to five stores in a country on launch, it’s more of a commitment.”
Weston said the firm was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh which housed a factory from which Primark sourced. Over 1,100 people died in the tragedy.
He said for the Accord to work a “more collaboration” was needed across the industry. “It’s too easy for non-compliant manufacturers in developing worlds to just switch to others,” he said.
Weston confirmed it is in talks to buy Birmingham shopping centre The Pavilions, as reported on Retail-week.com last month. He said the move would enable it to open a large store in the shopping centre, while it would sub-let space back to other retailers.
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