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20 Dec

Primark Brings Its Bargains to Downtown Brooklyn

NEW YORK Primark is bringing its sharp-value, high-volume fashion format to downtown Brooklyn on Tuesday, with the opening of a three-level unit contained in the City Point mixed-used development.

With 49,000 square feet of selling space, the shop is stuffed with $3.50 T-shirt bras, $11 workout leggings, $10 men’s button-down shirts, $11 hoodies, faux fur gilets for $32, and thin, wide-leg and torn jeans within the $10 to $26 range.

With the $4 women’s cycling shorts, “We sell hundreds of those each week within the U.S.,” said Kevin Tulip, the president of Primark U.S., during a preview of the brand new store.

Further into the ladies’s energetic area, Tulip pointed to the $11 workout leggings. “There’s just incredible value on these,” he said. With Primark’s low prices, the margins could also be tight, but Tulip assured that the retailer makes it up by selling the items in huge quantities.

On the Dublin-based Primark, which is owned by Associated British Foods, it’s hard to search out anything over $50, except possibly hard-shell ridged rolling suitcases for $65, or some $55 outerwear. It’s all under the Primark label, except for exclusive licensed merchandise from Disney, the NBA and others, that Primark manufactures and sells but designs in collaboration.

There’s never any of the high-low pricing, couponing, or “blockbuster” one-day sales other retailers usually trumpet. “We’ll do markdowns when required. Nevertheless, we don’t do big end-of-season sales,” Tulip explained. “We’ll do a small amount of clearance. But we have a look at that on a weekly basis. It’s not that we’re waiting until the tip of the season, after which make a choice. Our founder [the late Arthur Ryan] was very clear around offering the suitable price, which is the primary price.”

The trend floor at Primark City Point.

Newscast Creative

Primark’s newest store, housed in a former Century 21 off-price unit, does have some innovations, most obviously the 5,000-square-foot “trend” department on the road level. It’s for highlighting product launches and staging special events, and features Primark’s fashionable side, like its varsity jackets, priced $37; wide-leg jeans, priced $22, or plaid shackets, priced $35, paired with faux leather pants, $18, and high-top sneakers, $18. Primark’s basics and essentials are on floors two and three. The shop can be testing self-checkout.

While Primark is heavily merchandised, it’s still a spacious environment in City Point, which is along Fulton Street, Brooklyn’s busiest retail corridor. Most of the display racks and tables are on wheels for straightforward, flexible merchandising to play up or play down products and categories depending on sales trends. Given the track and spot lighting and exposed ceilings there’s an overall contemporary, industrial feel.

Downtown Brooklyn is Primark’s sixteenth store within the U.S., and a high-profile step ahead in the corporate’s plan to have 60 stores operating within the U.S. by 2026. By then, Primark expects to have a complete of 530 stores operating in Europe and the U.S., from the present 416. Primark entered the States in 2015 by opening in downtown Boston. Next yr, openings are planned for Albany and Buffalo, Recent York.

It’s been a cautious, gradual expansion within the U.S., where Primark most directly competes with Old Navy, The Children’s Place, Penney’s, Kohl’s, and mainstream off-pricers. The vast majority of Americans remain unfamiliar with the retailer, though that changes as stores open. Primark does little traditional promoting, though is energetic on Instagram and other social media.

For many Americans, “It’s still a learning curve, but we’ve got two markets where I believe our customer has gotten to know us — in Massachusetts, where we opened our first store in Boston, after which we continued with Braintree and Burlington soon after,” said Tulip. “After which we’ve got our Danbury, Connecticut, store, where we’ve continued to see great year-over-year increases. That’s telling me that our customer just isn’t only coming back to buy with us more often but actually we’re beginning to see greater numbers of consumers coming in as well.

“We don’t do traditional TV promoting. What we do may be very much around social media, and we get out and talk concerning the brand. We do depend on word-of-mouth. We’ve had that for a very long time in Europe. Opening a recent store is all the time interesting to see how many individuals already are aware of our brand.”

Tulip, a 20-year veteran of Primark who began as a cashier at the shop when he was 16, said he just spent a number of days in Brooklyn, chatting with people in stores and restaurants. “People know Primark here. Plenty of them have either already shopped with us in our stores in Kings Plaza, Brooklyn, or Staten Island, or they know us from Europe. Now after we open in say, Buffalo, we’re already preparing to do some early mall promoting and more around targeted social media because we all know we won’t have the identical brand affinity up in Buffalo yet. That can take a bit of bit more time.”

Kevin Tulip, president of Primark U.S.

Since entering the U.S., one lesson Primark learned was that greater isn’t all the time higher. Some stores have been downsized. In Europe, the footprint is mostly larger. The overwhelming majority of the stores are on high streets versus malls, which aren’t as commonplace there as they’re in America.

“Malls are where we do most of our business within the U.S. and we’ll proceed to,” said Tulip. “So actually it’s been about getting the suitable size of store in a mall, working with the suitable partner, in fact, to be sure that that the placement has the footfall and the competitors we’re in search of. Thirty-five thousand square feet has really been the sweet spot for us within the U.S., though on the Roosevelt Field mall, Primark is definitely 44,000 square feet, and here now we have 49,000 square feet; 2.6 million people live on this borough. So we’re not afraid to take extra space where we all know that we’ve got an excellent location, and great footfall.”

One other key learning is that Primark licensed product is more in demand within the U.S. than in Europe. “We’ve continued to grow that provide to be sure that that the U.S. stores have a much bigger share of the buy in that,” said Tulip.

Being omnichannel capable isn’t something Primark has learned. The corporate doesn’t operate e-commerce, though Tulip disclosed it’s testing buy online, pick up in store in 25 units within the U.K., though no home delivery is obtainable.

“There may be opportunity within the U.S. for that middle-income customer to get to know Primark and to purchase with us and to essentially start actually coming to Primark more often,” said Tulip. “We’ve the power, with the cost-of-living crisis now, to supply that improbable value to customers as well. We’re already thoroughly placed with the product and price through our business model.”

He sees some advantage as a single channel retailer, operating stores only. “I actually have to say COVID[-19] just reminded us all of what we actually love — touching the product and being with people in stores. People realized what they’ve missed while it wasn’t there,” on account of pandemic lockdowns.

Though there’s nothing particularly Irish concerning the merchandise, Tulip said, “The best way we operate our model, our mentality, is Irish through and thru. We used to have two buying offices originally, one within the U.K. and one in Ireland and we merged them together. We now have a world buying team in Ireland that’s buying for 15 different countries,” where Primark operates stores. He said the buying team interacts often with the retail team within the stores.

“We’ll spend a variety of time together talking about culture and what’s happening and what we wish more of and fewer of. It’s a really, very dynamic relationship now we have. And that’s also very Irish. I mean, we will be quite tough with one another about what we must be higher on. However it’s not something that’s really conveyed to most people in the US.

“But I can inform you after 20 years with this company, we’re a really Irish business. And Dublin is our center. We’ve an office in Boston [where Tulip is based] and, you already know, there’s an office in Paris and an office in Milan, but those are smaller regional offices. We’re still very centrally run from Dublin.”

Primark features low-priced essentials.

Newscast Creative

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