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Primark to ramp up menswear after early Selfridges success

Primark is aiming to bolster its menswear category following early success with its debut in Selfridges’ Birmingham store.

Drapers revealed last month that Primark was opening two menswear concessions at Selfridges, in its Birmingham and Trafford Centre stores. George Weston, chief executive of the value retailer’s parent company Associated British Foods, has now identified potential to grow the category across its stores following early signs of success.

The edited and exclusive Primark menswear range for Selfridges includes chunky Fair Isle knits, baseball jackets and chinos, alongside Primark’s forthcoming Best of British range.

Weston said: “There’s good potential to grow menswear significantly. It is underselling compared with womenswear.”

Weston said the Birmingham Bullring store had done “extremely well” and that Primark had gained credibility from the tie-up. He did not rule out further concession openings but declined to give details.

“We’re thrilled by the reception,” added Weston. “It reflects the fashionability of the men’s range.”

Weston expects Christmas to be better than last year, largely due to weak comparatives because of the adverse weather conditions which blighted December trading in 2010.

The retailer said current trading was OK following a dip in September.

Primark’s adjusted operating profit dropped 8% in the year to September 17 from £335m to £309m against sales that shot up 13% to £3bn.

The retailer sacrificed margins – which fell from 12.5% to 10.2% – to protect its value credentials.

Weston said: “It’s very competitive, we’re all clawing for a smaller amount of money. It’s created an environment where consumers are looking for value. We are very comfortable with that. We do it best. We will always be the best value retailer on the high street. We’ll sacrifice margin for that.”

Associated British Foods plans to invest in new store openings for Primark. A store on Princes Street in Edinburgh will open just before Christmas and a second store on Oxford Street will open next summer.

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