Primark’s Paula Dumont Lopez splits her time between Ireland, the UK and Spain, and is equally fond of shopping at her company and at small independents
Paula Dumont Lopez joined Primark as group product director in January 2018. Responsible for a 250-strong team spanning buying, design and merchandising, it is her job to ensure that Primark has the best womenswear offer on the high street.
As head of womenswear buying, merchandising and design, Lopez works alongside fellow trading directors to create Primark’s strategy, while her primary focus remains on product.
Primark most recently launched its autumn 19 Limited Edition collection in time for Christmas. A “bold take” on party dressing, pieces feature winter-inspired floral and gothic designs as well as luxurious materials, such as velvet, taffeta and organza.
The team is currently working on the spring 20 range, and plans for autumn 20 are also well under way. Primark’s sustainable cotton ranges are also gaining momentum, and it plans to expand its Sustainable Cotton Programme to more than 160,000 farmers across India, Pakistan and China by 2022.
Womenswear retail prices range from £4 for a T-shirt to £13 for a pair of jeans. Products are available via the company’s 375 worldwide stores.
What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
Check my emails, then have a shower.
What was your first job?
I worked as a sales assistant in a clothes shop, in Spain, during university holidays [Lopez went to university in her home town of La Coruña].
How would you describe the brand in one sentence?
Primark is for everyone – it’s an inclusive fashion brand, with the best prices on the high street.
What’s your coffee (or tea) order?
A skinny cappuccino, please.
Where are your favourite places to shop?
Primark, of course, and also small independents. I love the areas in London that feel like a village experience, such as Marylebone High Street. There are some fantastic shops that cater for all price ranges there. At home, in La Coruña, my favourite shop is a multi-brand store called Maazi. It has an incredible mix of tastefully selected brands.
Last fashion purchase? Why did it catch your eye?
A double-breasted white coat from the Primark X Dulceida collaboration [with influencer Aida Domènech]. I tend to buy darker colours in the winter, so the white seemed a lot fresher, and will brighten up any outfit this season.
Emails or phone calls?
I prefer phone calls.
Most important lesson you’ve learned during your career?
Treat people how you would like to be treated.
What would be your ideal office/meeting space?
I love Primark’s headquarters [in Dublin, Ireland], which has no offices. We work in an expansive, open-plan space, which encourages collaboration and teamwork. It’s such a creative and inspiring environment and has a fashion studio, photo studio, two cafes and a well-being exercise studio.
What’s your favourite part of the creative process?
I love it when samples are finalised and you can imagine how products will look on the shop floor.
What has been your proudest moment since joining the company?
Working with the team to create one global range. This year, we amalgamated all of our buying, merchandising, design, quality and sourcing operations, to ensure that Primark’s business strategy and expansion into new international markets are fully supported.
What’s the last book you read?
La Importancia de las Cosas by [Spanish author] Marta Rivera de la Cruz.
I went to Venice and Rome in October.
Who in the fashion/retail industry inspires you?
Primark’s group director of people and culture, Lorraine Culligan, is a fantastic leader. She teaches us the importance of valuing people and talent within the business. Coco Chanel is also a true inspiration for women – not only did she influence the fashion industry, but proved that anything is possible with hard work and perseverance.
What’s the biggest challenge facing fashion today?
Being sustainable and making sure retailers are doing enough to look after the planet. At Primark, we are constantly expanding our efforts. It’s important to us and to our customers.
One piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Be yourself … always!
Who do you turn to when you need advice?
What would we find you doing at the weekend?
I live between Dublin and the UK during the week, and Spain at the weekends. You’ll normally find me enjoying a long family lunch at home, cooking and spending time together.
What are you looking forward to most in the year ahead?
Continuing to excite our customers by delivering the latest fashion at the best value. I’m also planning a big celebration for my husband’s 50th birthday. It’s a surprise, though, so I can’t say too much!