|Founded||13 June 1969Dublin, Irelandin|
22-24 Parnell Street Dublin 1, D01 P7W2,
Number of locations
|Paul Marchant (CEO and COO)|
|Revenue||£7.79 billion (2019)|
Number of employees
|Parent||Associated British Foods|
|Footnotes / references|
Primark (//) is an Irish fast fashion retailer with headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, and a subsidiary of the British food processing and retail company ABF. The company is named Penneys in the Republic of Ireland, where it was founded. The Penneys brand is not used outside of Ireland because it is owned elsewhere by American retailer J. C. Penney. The company has operations in Europe and the United States.
The company's first store, still in operation, was founded by Arthur Ryan on behalf of the Weston family (who had founded Associated British Foods in 1935) in June 1969 on 47 Mary Street, Dublin.
Success in the Republic of Ireland led to expansion into Northern Ireland, with Penneys opening a large store in Belfast City Centre in 1971. The company subsequently expanded outside of Ireland with a Primark store in Derby, England, in 1973. The company could not use the name "Penneys" in Europe outside Ireland as it was registered by J. C. Penney. The name "Primark" was then invented to use outside Ireland.
On 28 August 2018, a fire started on the roof of a Primark store in Belfast as it came towards the end of a major redevelopment, destroying the building and emitting plumes of thick, black smoke over the city. The building was a former bank with historical value that had been renovated previously. A new Primark store was built on the same site, and opened on 8 December 2018.
Primark offers a diverse range of products, including baby and children's clothing, womenswear, menswear, homeware, accessories, footwear, beauty products and confectionery.
Along with retailers such as Zara and H&M, Primark contributes to the contemporary fast fashion trend. According to an article about Primark in The Economist, "For many shoppers, Primark has an irresistible offer: trendy clothes at astonishingly low prices. The result is a new and even faster kind of fast fashion, which encourages consumers to buy heaps of items, discard them after a few wears and then come back for another batch of new outfits."
Primark owns over 370 stores across 12 countries.
The company's first store, still in operation, was opened in June 1969 on 47 Mary Street, Dublin under the Penneys brand, which continues to be the company's trading name in the Republic of Ireland to this day.
In May 2006, the first Primark store in mainland Europe opened in Madrid, Spain. In December 2008, Primark opened in the Netherlands, followed by Portugal, Germany and Belgium in 2009. Primark opened its first store in Austria on 27 September 2012, in Innsbruck. It expanded to France in 2013, in Marseille. The first Italian store opened in 2014.
After 10 years of constructing a chain of around 40 stores in Spain, Primark opened another store in Madrid in October 2015, the second biggest in the chain. In July 2018, it was revealed that Primark was entering Poland. The largest Primark store opened in Birmingham on 11 April 2019, occupying the former Pavilions Shopping Centre of 161,000 sqft. On 13 June 2019 Primark expanded to Slovenia with a store in Ljubljana. It has signed a lease for its first stores in Warsaw, Poland, Prague, Czech Republic and Bratislava, Slovakia.
In July 2019, Primark announced its U.S. market expansion to Chicago with a three-level 45,000 square foot flagship location on State Street. The location is scheduled to open in 2020 and will be its first store in the U.S. Midwest.
On 23 March 2020, the company announced that they would be closing their 189 UK stores until further notice, as demand dropped as a result of social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak. The chain's 153 stores in England re-opened on 15 June 2020.
In 2006, Primark joined the Ethical Trading Initiative, a collaborative organisation bringing together businesses, trades unions and NGOs to work on labour rights issues in their supply chains. ETI members commit to working towards the implementation of a code of conduct based on the International Labour Organization's core conventions.
In December 2008, the UK charity War on Want launched a new report, Fashion Victims II, that showed conditions had not improved in Bangladeshi factories supplying Primark, two years after the charity first visited them.
On 9 January 2009, a supplier was forced by ETI to remove its branding from Primark stores and websites following a BBC/The Observer investigation into the employment practices. The investigation alleged use of illegal immigrant labour and argued that the workers were paid less than the UK legal minimum wage.
On 16 June 2011, the BBC Trust's Editorial Standards Committee (ESC) published its findings into a Panorama programme 'Primark: On the Rack', broadcast in June 2008. The programme was an undercover investigative documentary examining poor working conditions in Indian factories supplying Primark. Although Primark subsequently stopped doing business with the Indian supplier, the ESC concluded that footage in the programme was 'more likely than not' to have been fabricated. The ESC directed the BBC to make an on-air apology and to ensure that the programme was not repeated or sold to other broadcasters. Primark created a specific website to deal with the issues around the programme.
Dhaka garment factory collapse
On 24 April 2013, the eight-story Rana Plaza commercial building collapsed in Savar, a sub-district near Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. At least 1,127 people died and over 2,438 were injured. The factory housed a number of separate garment factories employing around 5,000 people, several shops, and a bank. The day before the building collapsed, other businesses had closed but garment factory owners pressurized employees to report for work. Clothing labels from Mango and Primark were found amongst the dead,. Apparel for other brands were also manufactured at the site including the Benetton Group, Joe Fresh, The Children's Place, Primark, Monsoon, and DressBarn Primark paid compensation and emergency aid to the victims of the collapse, a move which was welcomed by Oxfam, and committed to review the structural integrity of buildings making its clothes.
Of the 29 brands identified as having sourced products from the Rana Plaza factories, only nine attended meetings held in November 2013 to agree a proposal on compensation to the victims. Several companies refused to sign, including Walmart, Carrefour, Mango, Auchan and Kik. The agreement was signed by Primark, Loblaw, Bonmarché and El Corte Inglés.
In June 2013, two labels both stitched with SOS messages were separately found in garments purchased from a store in Swansea, Wales. Primark argued the supply chain showed these label messages were a hoax.
Also in June 2014, a customer from Ireland found an SOS note wrapped in a prison ID card in the pocket of trousers purchased from a Primark store several years earlier. The letter was written in Chinese and alleged that prisoners were forced to work "like oxen" making fashion clothes for export for 15 hours per day, and the food they were given wouldn't be fit for dogs or pigs.
A year and a half later an SOS note from an alleged Chinese torture victim was found in socks purchased from Primark.
In December 2018, a human bone was found by a customer in a sock purchased in the shop's Colchester branch.
Primark in the Former Lewis's Building in Manchester city centre
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- Media related to Primark at Wikimedia Commons