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DUBLIN – Fast fashion brand Primark is hoping to offload millions of pounds worth of clothing stock when its shops reopen in England on 12 April. In a trading update, the company’s owner Associated British Foods (ABT), said that Primark, which does not have an online presence, has lost£1.1bn in sales due to the latest lockdown closures. To help plug the gap, Primark plans to try sell more than £400m of last year’s stock.

Primark said its 153 stores would reopen in England on 12 April, and in Scotland on 26 April.

Primark said its retail performance in the first half was “materially impacted by the restrictions on movement of people and of trading activity put in place by the UK and European governments.”

The company expects sales in the first half to be £2.2bn and the adjusted operating profit to be marginally above break-even.

In a statement, Associated British Foods added: “We are looking forward to the reopening of the Primark estate. As of today, we have likely reopening dates for 233 stores in addition to the 77 stores already open, so that 83 per cent of our retail selling space should be trading by 26 April. Our stores will be offering exciting seasonal ranges for spring/summer and we have been placing orders for merchandise with a long lead time for the autumn/winter season. We expect the period after reopening to be highly cash generative.”

Editor’s comment: Primark’s lack of an online presence has left it seriously exposed during the pandemic while online retailers have flourished. More pertinent here, however, is what the company will do with all that excess stock. Historically, we have seen fast fashion retailers struggle with the issue of excess inventory – H&M had problems a couple of years back due to logistics issues – but it’s hard to remember anything on this scale.


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