Wicked-good news for Bostonians who like their clothes as cheap as possible: The city will see the opening of the first U.S. Primark store. The U.K.-based discount retailer outlined its Stateside expansion plans to Reuters, starting with the Boston location (to open at the end of 2015) and 10 more northeastern outposts by the following spring.
“The secret of its success,” according to the trade, is “placing huge orders for top-selling items…and passing on the savings to shoppers.” Primark also has short lead times — 90 days for basic items and eight weeks for “fast fashion” — and 10% of its offerings are new to stores each week. “H&M forecasts two years in advance,” said Ann Marie Cregan, Primark’s head of buying for womenswear. “We only do six months, based on fashion trends.” But, the company has to create another supply chain, eventually forging relationships in countries closer to the U.S., like Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Mexico. Until then, Primark will continue to work with “its traditional supplier markets of China, India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Turkey,” where it’s launched an Ethics campaign after the Rana Plaza tragedy. “But, rather than crossing Europe, clothing from Asian markets will come across the Pacific, through the Panama Canal and up the east coast,” Reuters explains. (Don’t scoop up any messages in a bottle/trousers en route.)
Yet, Primark remains realistic ahead of its American arrival, where it counts Target, Forever 21, and Gap among its competitors. “The bull case is it is absolutely a step change, suddenly the population opportunity for Primark has just doubled — if it works,” suggested John Bason, finance director of Primark’s parent company, Associated British Foods. “If it doesn’t work then Primark is a western European brand.” Either/or. (Reuters)