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"Penneys" redirects here. For the American retailer, see J. C. Penney.
Primark Stores Ltd.
Native name
Industry Retail
Founded Dublin, Ireland (June 1969 (1969-06))
Headquarters Dublin, Ireland
Number of locations
296 stores (august 2015)[1]
Area served
Western Europe
  • Clothing
  • Homeware
  • Cosmetics
Revenue £4,273m (Financial Year 2012/2013)
£514m (Financial Year 2012/2013)
Number of employees
Parent Associated British Foods
Primark store in Cambridge.
Former Primark closed on 28 March 2015 on The Headrow in Leeds city centre, occupying the former Odeon cinema there.
Primark in the Former Lewis's Building in Manchester city centre.

Primark (PREE-mark or PRY-mark) is an Irish clothing retailer operating in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland (branded as Penneys in Ireland), Portugal, Spain, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States and soon in Italy.[2][3] It was founded and headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. The company's international headquarters is registered in Ireland.[4] Its UK operations are registered in England and Wales.[5][6] Primark is a subsidiary of international food, ingredients and retail group Associated British Foods. Primark was first opened by Arthur Ryan in June 1969 in Mary Street, Dublin under the name Penneys.[7] It became apparent that more stores were required and another four were added to the chain.

Further expansion and success in Ireland dictated 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.[8]

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.[9]

Market position[edit]

Primark sells fashionable clothes at the low cost end of the market.

Primark's products[edit]

All of the company's merchandise is made specifically for the company and as such Primark has its own brand names. Primark offer a diverse range of products, stocking everything from new born and kids clothing, to womenswear, menswear, home ware, accessories, footwear, beauty products and confectionery.


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.[10] 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 terms and conditions had not improved in Bangladeshi factories supplying Primark, two years after the charity first visited them.[11]

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 which was paid less than the UK legal minimum wage.[12]

On 16 June 2011 the BBC Trust's Editorial Standards Committee (ESC) published its findings into a Panorama programme[13] 'Primark: On the Rack', broadcast in June 2008. This 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.[14] 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.[15]

in 2011 Primark achieved ‘Leader’ status in the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI). This puts Primark in the top 5% of all ETI members and this is a position that has been upheld to date.

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.[16] The factory housed a number of separate garment factories employing around 5,000 people, several shops, and a bank[17] and manufactured apparel for brands including the Benetton Group, Joe Fresh,[18] The Children's Place, Primark, Monsoon, and DressBarn.[19][20] Primark paid $200 compensation and emergency aid to the victims of the collapse,[citation needed] a move which was welcomed by Oxfam,[21] and committed to review the structural integrity of buildings making its clothes.[22]

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, Bonmarché, Mango, Auchan and Kik. The agreement was signed by Primark, Loblaw, Bonmarche and El Corte Inglés.[23]

SOS Note Hoax[edit]

In June 2014, a customer from Ireland found an SOS note in the pocket of trousers she had bought from a Primark store in Belfast several years earlier.[24] The letter was written in Chinese and also contained a prison ID card. The letter alleged that the author was 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.

A few days later, Primark claimed the label, and several others found in items in a store in Swansea, were a hoax.[25]


Primark expanded rapidly in the UK in the mid-2000s. In 2005 they bought the Littlewoods chain for £409m,[26] retaining 40 of the 119 stores and selling the rest. They opened in the Meadowhall Centre in mid-2007.[27]

In May 2006, the first Primark store outside Ireland and the UK opened in Madrid, Spain. 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 largest Primark store in the world is located on Market Street, Manchester, England occupying 155,000 sq ft (14,400 m2) of retail space, spread over three floors. The Market Street store recently completed a full store refurbishment and extension to add an extra 50,000 sq ft (4,600 m2) of retail space to the ground and first floors.[1][28]

Country Number of stores
trading as of 28 August 2015
United Kingdom United Kingdom 168
Spain Spain 41
Republic of Ireland Ireland 34
Germany Germany 19
Netherlands Netherlands 12
Portugal Portugal 8
France France 5
Austria Austria 4
Belgium Belgium 4
United States United States 1
Italy Italy opening 2016


  1. ^ a b "Primark - About Us". Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  2. ^ "Primark to open in the United States". 23 April 2014. 
  3. ^ Redazione. "Primark, shopping in Italia: le novità - Velvet Style Italia". Velvet Style Italia. 
  4. ^ "Primark Holdings". 
  5. ^ McCabe, Sarah (29 November 2013). "Expansion plans on course for Penneys international HQ in Dublin". Irish Independent. Retrieved 20 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "About Us". Primark. Retrieved 20 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "Fashion swing is felt by Penneys' owners". 
  8. ^ "The rise and rise of Primark". AOL Money. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  9. ^ "Opposites attract: Primark to open its first concessions... in Selfridges". Mail Online. 
  10. ^ Primark joins Ethical Trading Initiative - Press Release - ETI
  11. ^
  12. ^ McDougall, Dan (11 January 2009). "Primark in storm over conditions at UK supplier". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ 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). 
  15. ^ "Primark Panorama - Primark's response to the BBC's apology". 
  16. ^ 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 
  17. ^ Zain Al-Mahmood, Syed (24 April 2013). "Matalan supplier among manufacturers in Bangladesh building collapse". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 21 October 2013. 
  18. ^ Clare O'Connor (30 April 2013). "'Extreme Pricing' At What Cost? Retailer Joe Fresh Sends Reps To Bangladesh As Death Toll Rises". Forbes. 
  19. ^ Nelson, Dean (24 April 2013). "Bangladesh building collapse kills at least 82 in Dhaka". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  20. ^ Alam, Julhas (24 April 2013). "At least 87 dead in Bangladesh building collapse". USA Today. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  21. ^ "Oxfam response to Primark's statement on compensation for people affected by the Bangladesh Savar building collapse - Oxfam International". Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  22. ^ Factory Building Collapse in Bangladesh Kills 149 | Digital Wires from | News McGraw-Hill Construction
  23. ^ Ovi, Ibrahim Hossain (2013), Buyers' compensation for Rana Plaza victims far from reality, retrieved 16 December 2013 
  24. ^ "Primark investigates claim of 'cry for help' note in trousers". BBC News. 
  25. ^ "Primark claims 'cry for help labels' are a hoax carried out in the UK following investigation". The Independent. 
  26. ^ Finch, Julia (8 August 2005). "M&S to cash in as Littlewoods disappears". The Guardian (London). 
  27. ^ Laura Chesters (29 August 2006). "Next and Primark to anchor Meadowhall". Property Week. 
  28. ^ "What's Happening in Manchester City Centre - Manchester Fashion Network". Retrieved 23 April 2012. 

External links[edit]