Primark’s fast fashion makes it fastest-growing retailer in the US

Cantillon: Irish-run discounter tops retail lobby group’s Hot 100 list with $489m sales

Customers at the opening of Primark’s store in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania in 2016. “H&M and Forever 21 should be terrified,” said Business Insider

Customers at the opening of Primark’s store in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania in 2016. “H&M and Forever 21 should be terrified,” said Business Insider

 

Primark’s three-year-old assault on the US retail market hasn’t always been straightforward. But it is starting to win the recognition – and fear – of its larger peers.

The Irish-run discount clothes retailer has just topped the annual Hot 100 list of the gargantuan National Retail Federation (NRF), the biggest retail lobbying group in the world.

The Hot 100 is researcher Kantar and NRF’s assessment of the fastest-growing retailers in the US. In the latest edition of the lobbying group’s Stores magazine, Primark tops the list, ahead of sports and recreation retailer Bass Pro Shops, appliance retailer Build.com and, in fourth place, Amazon.

The ranking is compiled by measuring the retailers’ percentage of US sales growth in 2017 over 2016, with a $300 million threshold for inclusion. According to the Hot 100, Primark’s US sales increased “103 per cent to $489 million”.

Last month, respected US business website Business Insider visited the latest Brooklyn store opened by Primark, which it says is “invading” the US.

“[We] saw why H&M and Forever 21 should be terrified,” said Insider.

Primark is by far the smallest retailer in the upper echelons of the Hot 100, and is therefore growing from a much smaller base.

It still has only nine US stores, and its parent, Associated British Foods, has been at pains to stress that the group is taking a “cautious” approach to its US growth plan. Rather than opening a raft of new stores, for example, it has been careful to adjust the format of its existing estate as it learns more about how the US market works.

It is clear, however, that its slowly, slowly approach to fast fashion is bearing fruit in the form of growing sales.

The Trump tax cuts have given US consumers a pep in their step, and the economy is there is starting to straighten its back.

If Primark can further perfect its model and, crucially, win widespread brand recognition, then the company, headquartered in Dublin, could be about to write its most successful chapter yet.

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