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"Penneys" redirects here. For the American retailer, see J. C. Penney.
This article is about clothing retailing shop from Ireland. For a community mall chain in the Philippines, see Primark Town Center.
Primark Stores Ltd
Native name
Subsidiary of Associated British Foods
Industry Retail
Founded June 1969 in Dublin, Ireland
Founders Arthur Ryan
Headquarters 45-47 Mary Street, Dublin 1, D01 NX45, Ireland [1]
Number of locations
325 stores [2][3]
Area served
United Kingdom, Ireland, Europe, and the United States [2]
Key people
Paul Marchant, CEO
John Lyttle, COO
Steve Lawton, Trading Director
Jose Luis Martinez De Larramendi, Head of Spain and Portugal Division
Julian Kilmartin, Buying and Merchandising Director [4]
Products Clothing
Revenue £5,347m (FY 2015)
£673m (FY 2015)
Number of employees
over 57,000 [5]
Parent Associated British Foods

Primark (branded as Penneys in Ireland) is an Irish clothing retailer operating in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States and Italy.[6][7] It was founded and headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. The company's international headquarters is registered in Ireland.[8] Its UK operations are registered in England and Wales.[9][10] Primark is a subsidiary of international food, ingredients and retail group Associated British Foods.


Primark Logo

Primark was first opened by Arthur Ryan in June 1969 in Mary Street, Dublin under the name Penneys.[11] Further expansion and success in Ireland led to the move to the United Kingdom, and, in 1971, it opened a large store in Belfast City Centre before opening four out-of-town stores in England in 1973.[12] In October 2011, Primark opened its first concession model. Primark is now stocked in Selfridges department stores in Trafford Centre, Manchester, The Bull Ring, Birmingham and Oxford Street, London.[13]

In 1973, when it opened its first English store in Derby, the first store outside Ireland, it couldn't use the name "Penneys" because J. C. Penney had the name registered. The name "Primark" was then invented to use outside Ireland.[5]

Primark has corporate headquarters in Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom and international headquarters in a redeveloped building in Dublin, Ireland, Arthur Ryan House, opened in 2015.[4][14]


Primark offer a diverse range of products, including new born and kids clothing, women's wear, men's wear, home ware, accessories, footwear, beauty products and confectionery. The company sells clothes at the low cost end of the market below average prices. Along with retailers such as Zara and H&M, Primark contributes to the contemporary fast fashion trend. According to an article about Primark in The Economist, "For many shoppers, Primark has an irresistible offer: amazing trendy clothes at amazingly low prices. The result is a new and even faster kind of fast fashion, which forces consumers to buy heaps of items sometimes even the same ones to use when the first ones worn out, discard them after a few wears and then come back for another batch of new outfits."[15]

Primark have created a new line called "PS Pro" which has been praised by many beauty bloggers for its high quality and low price. [16]


Primark in the Former Lewis's Building in Manchester city centre.
World's second largest Primark in Madrid, Spain

Primark expanded rapidly in the UK in the mid-2000s. Primark own over 290 stores across the UK,Europe, Ireland and the USA. [17]In 2005 they bought the Littlewoods retail stores for £409m,[18] retaining 40 of the 119 stores and selling the rest. They opened in the Meadowhall Centre in mid-2007.[19] In May 2006, the first Primark store outside Ireland and the UK opened in Madrid, Spain. After 10 years of constructing a chain around 40 stores in Spain, Primark finally opened its second biggest store in the world in Madrid in October 2015.[20] In December 2008, Primark opened its first stores in the Netherlands, followed in 2009 by its first stores in Portugal, Germany and Belgium. Primark opened its first store in Austria on 27 September 2012 in Innsbruck, this was followed by another store in Vienna which opened in October 2012. The world's largest Primark store is located on Market Street, Manchester, England, occupying 155,000 sq ft (14,400 m2) of retail space across three floors.

Primark expanded to the United States in 2015 when it opened its first store in Downtown Crossing, Boston in the location that was once the flagship store of Filene's. The other American store is located at the King of Prussia Mall, the nation's largest mall, near Philadelphia. The third location opened in the Danbury Fair Mall, Danbury, CT in June 2016. A fourth location opened on 16 July 2016 in the Freehold Raceway Mall, Freehold, NJ. They occupy the upper level that Sears abandoned. A fifth location opened in Willow Grove Park Mall, near Philadelphia shortly thereafter.

There will be a new Penneys store opening in Liffey Valley Shopping Centre in Dublin Ireland, on the 6th of December 2016[21]

Primark operates stores in the following countries:[22]

Country Number of stores
United Kingdom United Kingdom 174
Spain Spain 42
Republic of Ireland Ireland 38
Germany Germany 22
Netherlands Netherlands 16
France France 10
Portugal Portugal 9
United States United States 7
Austria Austria 5
Belgium Belgium 4
Italy Italy 2


Working practices[edit]

In 2006, Primark joined the Ethical Trading Initiative, a collaborative organisation bringing together businesses, trades unions and NGOs to work on labour rights issues in their supply chains.[23] ETI members commit to working towards the implementation of a code of conduct based on the International Labour Organisation's core conventions.

In December 2008, the UK charity War on Want launched a new report, Fashion Victims II, that showed conditions had not improved in Bangladeshi factories supplying Primark, two years after the charity first visited them.[24]

On 9 January 2009, a supplier was forced by ETI to remove its branding from Primark stores and websites following a BBC/The Observer investigation into the employment practices. The investigation alleged use of illegal immigrant labour and argued that the workers were paid less than the UK legal minimum wage.[25]

On 16 June 2011, the BBC Trust's Editorial Standards Committee (ESC) published its findings into a Panorama programme[26] 'Primark: On the Rack', broadcast in June 2008. The programme was an undercover investigative documentary examining poor working conditions in Indian factories supplying Primark. Although Primark subsequently stopped doing business with the Indian supplier, the ESC concluded that footage in the programme was 'more likely than not' to have been fabricated.[27] The ESC directed the BBC to make an on-air apology and to ensure that the programme was not repeated or sold to other broadcasters. Primark created a specific website to deal with the issues around the programme.[28]

In 2011 and 2012, Primark achieved ‘Leader’ status in the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI).[29]

Building collapse at Savar[edit]

On 24 April 2013, the eight-story Rana Plaza commercial building collapsed in Savar, a sub-district near Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. At least 1,127 people died and over 2,438 were injured.[30] The factory housed a number of separate garment factories employing around 5,000 people, several shops, and a bank,[31] and manufactured apparel for brands including the Benetton Group, Joe Fresh,[32] The Children's Place, Primark, Monsoon, and DressBarn.[33][34] Primark paid compensation and emergency aid to the victims of the collapse,[citation needed] a move which was welcomed by Oxfam,[35] and committed to review the structural integrity of buildings making its clothes.[36]

Of the 29 brands identified as having sourced products from the Rana Plaza factories, only 9 attended meetings held in November 2013 to agree a proposal on compensation to the victims. Several companies refused to sign, including Walmart, Carrefour, Mango, Auchan and Kik. The agreement was signed by Primark, Loblaw, Bonmarché and El Corte Inglés.[37][38][39]

SOS Messages[edit]

In June 2014 two labels both stitched with SOS messages were separately found in Swansea purchased garments.[40] Primark argued the supply chain showed these label messages were a hoax.[41][42]

Also in June 2014, a customer from Ireland found an SOS note wrapped in a prison ID card in the pocket of trousers purchased from a Primark store several years earlier.[43][44] The letter was written in Chinese and alleged that prisoners were forced to work "like oxen" making fashion clothes for export for 15 hours per day, and the food they were given wouldn't be fit for dogs or pigs.[45]

A year and a half later an SOS note from an alleged Chinese torture victim was found in socks purchased from Primark.[46]


Ireland Stores:


  1. ^ [1], [The Journal]. Retrieved 14 April 2016
  2. ^ a b "Primark - Our Stores". Retrieved 15 February 2016. 
  3. ^ "Primark - About Us". Retrieved 15 February 2016. 
  4. ^ a b "Snapshot: Primark Stores Limited", Bloomberg. Retrieved 11 February 2016
  5. ^ a b "A household Irish name built from humble beginnings: The Penneys story : It all began in Dublin’s fair city in 1969", The Journal (Ireland), 1 March 2015 (accessed 15 February 2016)
  6. ^ "Primark to open in the United States". 23 April 2014. 
  7. ^ Redazione (31 August 2014). "Primark, la catena di shopping low cost arriva in Italia". Velvet Style Italia. 
  8. ^ "Primark Holdings". 
  9. ^ McCabe, Sarah (29 November 2013). "Expansion plans on course for Penneys international HQ in Dublin". Irish Independent. Retrieved 20 October 2014. 
  10. ^ "About Us". Primark. Retrieved 20 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "Fashion swing is felt by Penneys' owners". 
  12. ^ "The rise and rise of Primark". AOL Money. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  13. ^ "Opposites attract: Primark to open its first concessions... in Selfridges". Mail Online. 
  14. ^ "Primark officially opens redeveloped Dublin HQ", RTÉ, Dublin, Ireland, Thursday 17 September 2015
  15. ^ "Faster, cheaper fashion". The Economist. 5 September 2015. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  17. ^ "Primark". 
  18. ^ Finch, Julia (8 August 2005). "M&S to cash in as Littlewoods disappears". The Guardian. London. 
  19. ^ Laura Chesters (29 August 2006). "Next and Primark to anchor Meadowhall". Property Week. 
  20. ^ O' Leary, Elizabeth (October 15, 2015). "Penney's opens its second biggest store in the world in Spain". 
  21. ^ "Primark - Store: Liffey Valley". Retrieved 2016-12-01. 
  22. ^ "Primark - Our Stores". Retrieved 2016-12-01. 
  23. ^ Primark joins Ethical Trading Initiative - Press Release - ETI
  24. ^
  25. ^ McDougall, Dan (11 January 2009). "Primark in storm over conditions at UK supplier". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  26. ^
  27. ^ Revoir, Paul (17 June 2011). "Shamed BBC could lose prestigious TV award over 'faked footage of child labour' in Primark Panorama expose". Daily Mail. London. 
  28. ^ "Primark Panorama - Primark's response to the BBC's apology". 
  29. ^ "Associated British Foods plc - Responsibility - Responsibility in action - Primark Ethical Trade Team". Retrieved 8 September 2015. 
  30. ^ Ahmed, Saeed; Lakhani, Leone (14 June 2013), "Bangladesh building collapse: An end to recovery efforts, a promise of a new start", CNN, retrieved 16 December 2013 
  31. ^ Zain Al-Mahmood, Syed (24 April 2013). "Matalan supplier among manufacturers in Bangladesh building collapse". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 21 October 2013. 
  32. ^ Clare O'Connor (30 April 2013). "'Extreme Pricing' At What Cost? Retailer Joe Fresh Sends Reps To Bangladesh As Death Toll Rises". Forbes. 
  33. ^ Nelson, Dean (24 April 2013). "Bangladesh building collapse kills at least 82 in Dhaka". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  34. ^ Alam, Julhas (24 April 2013). "At least 87 dead in Bangladesh building collapse". USA Today. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  35. ^ "Oxfam response to Primark's statement on compensation for people affected by the Bangladesh Savar building collapse - Oxfam International". Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  36. ^ Factory Building Collapse in Bangladesh Kills 149 | Digital Wires from | News McGraw-Hill Construction
  37. ^ Ovi, Ibrahim Hossain (2013), Buyers' compensation for Rana Plaza victims far from reality, retrieved 16 December 2013 
  38. ^ "Full text". Rana Plaza Arrangement. 20 November 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2016. 
  39. ^ Shafiul Alam, Rabiul Alam, Manirul Islam, Amin Salek (16 May 2016). "Report from the Field: Pattern of Injuries and Treatment Given to Victims of Rana Plaza Tragedy in a Level II Armed Forces Medical Facility in Bangladesh". Journal of Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness. Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/dmp.2016.82. 
  40. ^ "Concerned shoppers speak out as Primark investigates 'sweatshop' labels". South Wales Evening Post. 
  41. ^ "Primark claims 'cry for help labels' are a hoax carried out in the UK following investigation". The Independent. 
  42. ^ "Primark insists labels sewn into its clothes with claims of 'sweatshop conditions' and 'exhausting hours' are hoaxes". The Daily Mail. 
  43. ^ "Primark investigates claim of 'cry for help' note in trousers". BBC News. 
  44. ^ "'The food we eat wouldn't even be given to dogs or pigs': Third Primark SOS note found". London Metro. 
  45. ^ "'Cry for help' from prisoner in Chinese forced labour jail alleged to have been found inside Primark trousers". Amnesty International. 
  46. ^ "Stunned Primark shopper finds disturbing note from 'Chinese torture victim' in sock". 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Primark at Wikimedia Commons