Pri­mark Built a Brook­lyn Be­he­moth, But Will They Come?

WWD Digital Daily - - News - BY SHARON EDEL­SON

Pri­mark is go­ing big in Brook­lyn.

The Dublin-based re­tailer on Satur­day un­veiled its ninth U.S. unit, a 57,900-square­foot store at Kings Plaza shop­ping cen­ter in Brook­lyn, rep­re­sent­ing its lat­est think­ing and most con­tem­po­rary con­cept and boast­ing 56 fit­ting rooms and 42 cash wraps. An enor­mous LED screen on Kings Plaza’s ex­te­rior faces Flat­bush Av­enue.

An­a­lysts have been bullish on Pri­mark’s U.S. ex­pan­sion — Bar­clays said Pri­mark’s po­ten­tial in the U.S. could be a gamechanger, peg­ging sales at $6 bil­lion — if the re­tailer can trans­late its fast-fash­ion model suc­cess­fully to Amer­i­can au­di­ences. Pri­mark is aware of the “if” and has not reached a fore­gone con­clu­sion that the busi­ness is a slam-dunk. Chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Ge­orge West has taken a cau­tious but op­ti­mistic view of re­sults so far, adding that it’s still very early in Pri­mark’s his­tory as a re­tailer in the U.S.

Pri­mark down­sized and re­vamped two ex­ist­ing stores in Con­necti­cut and New Jer­sey, and be­lieves their per­for­mance has im­proved. The re­tailer is plan­ning to open its first Florida store at Saw­grass Mills Mall in Sun­rise, which would pro­vide it with the op­por­tu­nity to op­er­ate in a dif­fer­ent part of the U.S. and a dif­fer­ent re­tail en­vi­ron­ment — an out­let shop­ping cen­ter — from its ex­ist­ing stores.

The 1.1 mil­lion-square-foot Kings Plaza in 2012 was ac­quired by Mac­erich, which has been re­mod­el­ing and re-mer­chan­dis­ing the cen­ter with a new en­trance and other up­grades, and ten­ants such as Michael Kors, Vince Ca­muto and Adi­das, among oth­ers. Pri­mark’s open­ing, orig­i­nally set for May 16, was de­layed by the ren­o­va­tions. There were ac­ti­va­tions none­the­less at mo­bile pop-up clos­ets through­out Brook­lyn, where stylist Jamie Frankel out­fit­ted con­sumers and Tay­lor Bal­lan­tyne pho­tographed them in Pri­mark looks. The im­ages could then be posted to In­sta­gram and tagged #Pri­markUSA for a chance to be fea­tured in a guer­rilla art cam­paign.

“We com­pleted our ac­ti­va­tions, the pop-up mo­bile clos­ets through­out Brook­lyn,” a spokes­woman said. “The de­lay was due to tech­ni­cal is­sues out of our con­trol and af­fected other mall ten­ants.”

Pri­mark’s draw is a va­ri­ety of fre­quently re­freshed women’s, men’s and chil­dren’s ap­parel, beauty, home prod­ucts and gifts, as well as low prices. The re­tailer’s tag line is “Amaz­ing Fash­ion at Amaz­ing Prices.” Play­suits are $9.99; dresses start at $12; tops, $8, and jeans, $7. “In the U.S., cus­tomers love both our ba­sics and our fash­ion,” the com­pany told WWD. “Our women’s denim is one of the most pop­u­lar cat­e­gories. Cus­tomers also love the men’s for­mal­wear and suit­ing of­fer.”

As­so­ci­ated Bri­tish Foods, Pri­mark’s par­ent, is be­ing cau­tious about its ex­pan­sion in the U.S., not­ing that the re­tailer needs to adapt units to the tastes and pref­er­ences of Amer­i­can shop­pers. Post­ing met­rics for the 40 weeks end­ing June 23, ABS said Pri­mark sales grew 7 per­cent dur­ing the pe­riod.

Pri­mark added about 400,000 square feet of new re­tail space in the third quar­ter, in­clud­ing open­ing seven stores in Mu­nich; Metz, France; An­twerp; Va­len­cia, Spain; Til­burg, the Nether­lands; Burn­ley in Lan­cashire, and West­field Lon­don shop­ping cen­ter in White City.

Fast-fash­ion has been be­lea­guered for some time, though the re­tailer says its busi­ness has im­proved.

The Dublin-based re­tailer opened its ninth store on Satur­day.

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