It'll never fly - Primark

The fashion chain run by the makers of Ovaltine peddles heaps of own-brand clothes in a badly-lit, bargain-bin smash-and-grab.

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Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

That it's a hit with budgeting youngsters doesn't raise an eyebrow. More surprising are their opponents in the scrum - label-conscious yummy mummies with one eye on the £6 gypsy skirts and the other on the fashion mag spreads.

Unlike struggling high-street mainstay M&S, Primark knows what it is.

It's cheap, and proud of it. It doesn't blow a penny on flashy advertising but it relies on word-of-mouth and puts its cash into its buyers and hi-tech stock management. It scouts what's happening on the catwalk and gets stuff on the shelves quicker than you can say 'sequinned shrug'. The result: a constantly rotating stock that has former label snobs rummaging for the biggest bargain and running to their mates to brag. If it doesn't work, no problem - it's budget/bin-it shopping.

Owner Associated British Foods reported Primark profits at £613 million last year (up 30% on the previous 12 months), while results for Next and M&S slumped. And it's set to up the ante when it opens its flagship Oxford Street store in 2007.

To cap it all, Primark - quietly doing business since 1969 - last year confirmed its acceptance into the fashionista inner circle with appearances on the hallowed pages of Vogue. Its military jacket (£12) appeared opposite a strikingly similar offering from Balenciaga (£1,190).

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