There was a point when a visit to Primark was a bit of a bunfight. But the days of garments on the floor outnumbering those on the rails now seems a distant memory – in most branches anyway.
News that Arthur Ryan has stepped down from the chief executive’s hotseat at Primark is hardly a surprise – it had to happen at some point and it seems a fair bet that as chairman he will continue to exercise more than undue influence on the way that things run. Which begs rather an interesting question.
Now that Primark appears to have a store design chief, in the shape of Peter Franks (ex TK Maxx and Louis Vuitton - it’s an interesting pedigree), and has continued to work successfully with Dalziel + Pow updating the Ur Marble Arch design, what might slow things down?
This is a difficult one. Consider the facts. There was a point when a visit to Primark was a bit of a bunfight. To an extent, it still is, but it’s a scramble that has some finesse and the days of garments on the floor outnumbering those on the rails now seems a distant memory – in most branches anyway.
Then there are the prices. On the day this year that Primark broke ground in the German city of Bremen, it was a bit like the Top Shop opening in New York. North of 300 people queued around the block to visit a store in a new-build mall that up until that point had been short of shoppers. Next door was a branch of C&A spin-off Avanti and it looked pretty good. The prices, if anybody had bothered to do a close comparison were in fact pretty much the same as in Primark. But they didn’t because somehow, even in a brand new market, with minimal local marketing activity, there is a perception, and in these cases it’s perception that matters, that Primark combines value and fashion.
The plain fact now is that Primark seems able to produce the right product housed in increasingly good-looking store environments where housekeeping is now actively undertaken. And since the little local difficulty in Manchester earlier this year, it is understood that Primark has got the supplier problem in hand (although the whole matter didn’t appear to dent sales one jot).
Given the mass defection to this retailer that appears to have taken place, perhaps somebody might be able to come up with a cogent reason(s) why Primark won’t continue to thrive. The slightly worrying point is that it hasn’t even begun to approach saturation in this country, let alone overseas. Mass plus velocity equals momentum. Primark is only just beginning to motor.