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Editor's Comment: Primark and JD provide beacons of hope in fashion

Keely Stocker

High-profile company voluntary arrangements from New Look and Select have sent shockwaves across fashion retail. 

Subdued consumer confidence and spending laid bare the businesses’ weaknesses.

But fashion in 2018 is increasingly a story with two diverging narratives, and JD Sports Fashion and Primark highlight this week how a clear brand proposition and strong audience engagement can make all the difference.

JD posted another set of record results, while Primark’s UK like-for-like sales were also on the rise, despite a challenging climate. Both retailers have flourished, even as competition in the value fashion and sportswear sectors has increased, and they have carved out strong positions in the market.

Primark is still the undisputed leader for young shoppers looking for cheap, on-trend product. Many of its newer stores are well designed and merchandised, and it continues to remain one step ahead of trends such as activewear and fashionable prints. Its store estate, meanwhile, is not as big as some other chains and it continues to open in new locations.

JD is getting many things right – it has a strong brand mix and its international growth is impressive. Its online performance is clearly providing a crucial source of growth, as shown by a 30% rise in online like-for-likes.

Primark and JD continue to perform well

Primark and JD continue to perform well

Primark, however, continues to trade only in its bricks-and-mortar stores. With growth potential in is expanding store estate, it is almost unique in not having had to prioritise a transactional online offer. This may not remain the case forever, and the retailer will likely need to explore how to turn its already-strong social presence into a more comprehensive digital offer as its UK store footprint reaches saturation.

These beacons of hope in fashion aren’t just coming from multiples. The independent sector also holds shining stars, and as we extend the deadline to enter Drapers Independents Awards to 4 May, we are looking forward to celebrating the most influential brands and highly respected independent retailers.

This event rewards those businesses changing the landscape and pushing the boundaries in the independent sector, which often produces the most innovative ideas around customer engagement. That’s why this year we have introduced three new categories – Most Influential on Social Media, Best Marketing Campaign and Local Champion. To enter go to

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