By Geoff Percival
Dublin-headquartered discount clothing retailer Primark is to focus on the US and eastern Europe for its international growth.
The company, which trades here as Penneys, has also confirmed details of its pending resumption of trading in Belfast, following the August fire which destroyed its store at the city’s Bank Buildings.
Primark said it will open a new central Belfast store, at Commonwealth House, on December 8 and resume trading in time for the Christmas shopping period.
It also said that it is committed to working with Belfast’s city authorities to restore Bank Buildings “over the longer term”.
Primark’s revenues, for the 12 months to mid-September, increased by 6% to just under £7.5bn (€8.6bn), while its annual operating profits jumped 15% to £843m. The business was one of the main drivers of annual growth for diversified parent group Associated British Foods (ABF), whose yearly profits jumped 3% to just over £1.4bn and revenues rose 1% to £15.6bn.
Primark said it performed particularly well in the UK, but saw like-for-like sales fall by nearly 5% in the eurozone. Bad weather in northern Europe was to blame.
In terms of physical growth, Primark said it will look to expand into eastern Europe, with first stores planned for Poland and Slovenia. More expansion is also planned in the US.
Primark said it was “very pleased” with its performance in the US in the second half of the year — with its ninth store, which opened in Brooklyn in July, trading “very strongly”.
Two stores in New Jersey and Florida will open in the next two years, after which Primark will continue to focus on east coast store openings to be serviced from its existing US warehouse.
No further store openings are planned for the Republic.
The last Penneys store opening here was at Liffey Valley last year. But, at the time Primark indicated it was open to opening more outlets in its home market by saying Liffey Valley demonstrated “the opportunity for further selling space expansion in our more established markets”.