Primark has seen a “good early reaction” to its new UK non-transactional customer website, with traffic doubling in its first two weeks, its parent company Associated British Foods (ABF) says today.
While shoppers cannot buy on the website, they can see more products and check local stock availability, and ABF says visitors have viewed twice as many pages per session as they did when visiting its previous site.
Features to come include a customer account and a wishlist function that it says will enable more personalised marketing. The new website is set to be rolled out across its markets by the autumn. ABF says Primark is “transforming its digital capability” as it uses digital to connect its stores, with the aim of both raising brand awareness among new customers and bringing more people into its stores.
At the same time, Primark continues to open shops. As of March 5, it had 402 shops in 14 markets following four openings – in Italy and Spain – in the first half of the year. It expects to have 530 shops within the next five years, with a focus on openings in the US, France, Italy and Iberia, while also moving into two new markets – Romania and Slovakia.
Primark is expected to raise some prices in the autumn and winter, at a time of inflationary pressures from logistics challenges to the cost of raw materials and energy – exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine – that are affecting all of ABF’s businesses. However, ABF says it is committed to keeping prices down. It is taking steps to save money in its operations, where its tools include an increased use of automation, but is increasing prices “where necessary”.
ABF chief executive George Weston says: “Primark delivered a significant increase in sales and profit, with stores now open and trading largely free of restrictions. Looking further ahead, inflationary pressures are such that we are unable to offset them all with cost savings, and so Primark will implement selective price increases across some of the autumn/winter stock. However, we are committed to ensuring our price leadership and everyday affordability, especially in this environment of greater economic uncertainty.”
ABF today reported group revenue of £7.9bn in the 24 weeks to March 5. That’s 25% up on the same time last year. Pre-tax profits of £635m are 131% up on last time. Primark sales grew by 59% to £3.5bn, while adjusted operating profit of £414m was 863% up on the £43m it reported last time.
ABF group sales and operating profits are now back at pre-Covid-19 levels – and Primark expects to see its sales pass 2019 levels in the second half of the year, from 10% more selling space.
Primark launched its Primark Care programs in September 2021 and is now increasing the proportion of clothes made from recycled and sustainable materials. In the six months to March 2022, 39% of its clothing was made from recycled or sustainably sourced materials – up from 25% in the six months to July 2021. A third (33%) of its cotton was organic, recycled or source from the Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme – up from 27% previously.