A focus on trend-led products, good basics and “fun” accessories – such as flamingo pool inflatables – helped Primark avoid heavy discounting over the summer months, finance boss John Bason has told Drapers.
Bason was speaking after the value retailer’s owner, Associated British Food, said it expected operating profit for the year to 16 September to be “way ahead” of last year, following a reduction in markdowns and particularly strong performance at Primark’s UK arm.
Full-year sales in the UK are expected to rise 10%, while sales across all markets are also expected to rise, jumping 13% on a constant currency basis and 20% at actual exchange rates.
“We saw really strong trading in the second half of the year that led to the spring summer ranges being sold at full price – we didn’t need to discount to move the stock and our markdown percentage was the best on record,” Bason said.
“There are a few factors which helped reduce markdowns. Buyers have been absolutely on trend, which is so easily said but very difficult to execute. The buying team has done incredibly well. Our core wardrobe offer is also very strong. When it comes to denim, there’s no better place than Primark.
“We also had a number of products customers just loved. Pink inflatable flamingo pool floats were a real feature of the summer season.”
He also pointed to the success of Primark’s Beauty and the Beast and Harry Potter merchandise and reiterated the retailer’s pledge not to increase prices, despite the challenging retail environment.
During the year Primark opened 30 new stores in nine countries.
In the US the retailer launched three US stores and extended the Downtown Crossing store in Boston by 20% to 92,000 sq ft. The retailer’s ninth US store is scheduled to open next year in Brooklyn, New York.
A total of 19 new stores are planned over the next financial year, adding 1.2m sq ft of additional selling space. The expansion will mainly focus on France, Germany and the UK. Large stores are planned in Stuttgart, Munich, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Antwerp.