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Online can wait, says Primark, as focus stays on bricks and mortar

Primark will continue to expand both overseas and in the UK before launching a transactional website, according to the chief executive of parent company Associated British Foods (ABF).

Speaking as ABF revealed yet another “outstanding” year for the fast-fashion retailer, chief executive George Weston told Drapers his priority was to bolster Primark’s retail presence in existing territories including Germany, Belgium, Spain and – from next month – France, as well as mulling “adjacent” territories including Italy, Scandinavia, Poland and the Czech Republic.

Primark also plans to expand in the UK and Weston confirmed he was in talks over the 250,000 sq ft Pavilions shopping centre in Birmingham, which would see Primark take a store of up to 150,00 sq ft and let the remaining space to other retailers.

“We’re not sure of the exact detail yet but it would be a major store for a major city – look at Newcastle, Manchester and Oxford Street, it’s in that gang,” he said.” Primark already has two stores in Birmingham – on New Street and in the Bullring.

These developments would come before the launch of a transactional website, with Weston saying it would be at least year before the business revisits its etail strategy.

This comes despite Primark trialling the sale of product on Asos earlier this year and recent investment in a new website, which will act purely as a prompt for its physical stores.

“We recognise the growing importance of online and we will keep our eye on it,” Weston said, but “a year from now [Primark] will still be bricks-and-mortar only”.

He implied any move could be further in the future still, hinting that Primark would not go online until it finished rolling out stores in Germany within three to five years.

The Primark website, which relaunched last week, was “just catching up with the way our customer gathers information.” ABF said Primark’s sales grew 9% to £4.27bn in the year to September 14, 2013.

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