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Primark new customer facing website on track to launch by end of March

Image courtesy of Primark

Primark says it expects to launch its new customer-facing website in the UK by the end of March.

The non-transactional site, which will show more of its products than its previous site, will also show product availability by store. It will be available in Primark’s other markets by the autumn.

An Oracle stock management system is also being rolled out across its stores, updating its point of sales systems. The retailer proposes to reduce store management jobs by a reported 400 roles as it improves the efficiency of its store retail operations. It currently employs about 29,000 people in the UK at 191 shops.

The update comes as Primark parent company Associated British Foods (ABF) reports that sales at the value fashion retailer – which only sells through stores – came in at £2.7bn in the 16 weeks to January 8. That’s a third (+32%) higher than in last year’s comparison period, the 16 weeks to January 2 2021, on a like-for-like basis that strips out the effect of store openings and last year’s pandemic lockdown closures. But total sales were 5% lower than the same period in pre-pandemic 2019/20 and LFL sales were 11% behind.

This year, it says, all of its stores traded through the period – except for short periods in Austria and the Netherlands, where closures are expected to have cost it £30m. Customer footfall rose on a steady trend until the Omicron variant hit in December, with stronger performance in retail parks and towns than in city centres. Now, however, store visitor numbers are improving in the UK and Ireland and ABF expects the quarter to April to be much stronger than last year.

Looking ahead, Primark says in today’s statement that it is “difficult to predict future trading conditions with certainty, but we have seen an encouraging improvement in footfall in the UK and Ireland as the disruption from Omicron reduces. Looking ahead, we expect Primark sales from now to April to be significantly better than sales in the comparable period in the last financial year, when the estate was largely closed.” The retailer says it is now seeing lower levels of supply chain disruption, compared to the autumn, but that there are still delays in dispatch at ports of origin. It expects longer shipping times to continue.

Total ABF group sales of £5.6bn were 16% higher than last time.

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