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Primark to trial click and collect and in-store returns later this year

Primark will sell online to collect in store in a trial to be launched later this year. Image courtesy of Primark

Primark will enable customers to order products online for the first time when it trials a click and collect service on an expanded range of children’s products towards the end of this year.

As many as 25 shops in the North West will offer the service, which represents the first time that Primark customers will have been able to order products online, albeit for collection only. Some 2,000 products, including clothing, accessories and nursery equipment, will be available to order online for collection. The range will be wider than that offered in store, with about 40% of options exclusive to click and collect. 

Shoppers who buy from Primark’s average sized shops will be able to buy from a wider range than they usually can, with the number of products available roughly doubling, while those who usually shop at its small stores will see a larger increase. The 25 shops involved in the trial represent a sample of Primark store sizes and formats. In-store collection will be from a designated area at the centre of the store that is designed to be welcoming. Both collection and returns to store will be free. 

Click and collect orders will be processed in a dedicated UK distribution centre. Fulfilment will operate manually for the course of the trial, but Primark says there are plans for automation in due course.

“We have chosen a much expanded range of children’s products for this trial, which we believe has the potential to satisfy unfulfilled demand, driving footfall from both existing and new customers to deliver incremental sales in store,” says Primark parent company ABF in a trading update today. 

Building out digital

The service builds on Primark’s improved digital capabilities following the launch of its non-transactional website in April. The site enables shoppers to check stock in local stores before making the journey to them. So far, says Primark parent company Associated British Foods (ABF), traffic to the new site is up by about 60% and customers are viewing twice as many pages per session as they did on the old site. About 15% of those visiting the site are using the stock checker when they do so. 

Primark has long held out against offering a full ecommerce business, but its current approach sees it use digital in a strategic way that is intended to boost footfall to stores. Click and collect has long been reported to result in extra, incremental sales when shoppers go into stores to pick up their orders.

Update on trading

The update comes with a third-quarter ABF trading update that shows group sales rose by 32% to £4bn in the 12 weeks to May 28 compared to the same time last year. Sales at Primark grew by 81% on last year to £1.7bn, following a quarter in which all of its stores operated as normal. A year earlier they were mostly closed until the middle of April as a result of Covid-19 lockdown in the UK and other markets. Sales were also 4% ahead of the same 2019 pre-pandemic period.

In the year to date, group sales are 29% ahead at £11.9bn while retail – Primark – sales grew by 69% to £5.3bn. Primark now expects to deliver a 10% adjusted operated profit margin in the full year. 

At the end of the quarter, Primark was trading from 403 shops. By the end of its 2026 financial year it aims to have 530. Growth markets include Italy and the US. The retailer says that in the UK, the return of tourism and an increase in office working have meant its fashion ranges have seen a strong customer response. 

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