Primark's new US store is 'where bargains were born'

The fashion retailer's first US store is in a former department store once famed for its bargain basement. Appropriate much?

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 08 Sep 2014

We knew this day would come: Associated British Foods has decided to launch Primark in the US. Yep - now Americans can spend $2 on ill-fitting t-shirts that are cheaper to throw away than wash, too.

This morning the company said it had signed a lease on a monster 70,000 sq ft store in 'the historic Burnham Building... in the heart of Boston'. Just think: a generation of Harvard and MIT students are about to be catapulted into consumer heaven.

The building - which, deliciously, was once home to the headquarters of Filene's department store, best known for its bargain basement (the slogan of its modern online incarnation is 'where bargains were born') - won't be finished until the end of 2015, so fast fashion lovers will have to wait until then. After that, ABF said 'negotiations are under way to open further stores in the north east, through to the middle of 2016'.

The news came as ABF posted its interim results, showing revenue dropped 2% to £6.2bn in the 24 weeks to the beginning of March, although adjusted operating profit (just) grew by 1% to £497m.

That drop in revenues was mainly driven by the falling price of sugar: revenues in its sugar division fell from £1.3bn last year to £1bn this year, while profit plummeted from £162m to just £64m. Primark all but made up for that, though - revenues in ABF's retail division, which is largely composed of Primarni, rose from £2bn in the first half of last year to £2.3bn this year, with sales jumping 14%. Profits grew from £237m to £298m.

ABF chief exec George Weston kept things short and sweet: 'The group as a whole has delivered a very resilient operational and financial result at a challenging time of transition for our European sugar business.' You're going to have to give more than that if you want to crack the US, my friend. They are a wordy lot out there...

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