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Primark likely to opt for high streets over malls in India

Budget friendly apparel and footwear brand Primark – which operates over 400 stores globally – is in talks with Reliance Retail for a possible partnership to enter India, possibly through a joint venture or licensing agreement, a leading daily reported a few days ago.

The brand has been evaluating the Indian market for some time, but in India, Primark is expected to deviate from the global retail trend of mall prioritisation by opening most of its stores on high streets, due to its large store format, preliminary retail reports on Retail Insight Network suggest.

Reliance’s strategic move of bringing Primark to India indicates its plans to compete with Tata-owned Zudio and Landmark Group’s Max Fashion in the same space. In May 2023, China-based online fashion retailer Shein signed a licensing agreement with Reliance Retail to re-enter the Indian market.

Primark has reported a robust 7.9% increase in sales for the first quarter [16 weeks] to 6 January 2024. Despite a slow start due to unseasonably warm weather, the retailer experienced strong Christmas 2023 trading and a surge in US sales. The retailer saw its like-for-like (LFL) sales grow by 2.1% in Q1 2024, driven by higher average selling prices. The retailer benefitted from strong foot traffic, new store performances, and website improvements.

Going Digital

Louise Deglise-Favre, apparel analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, says that Primark invested heavily in its digital operations in FY2022/23, after growth in the online channel caused it to sink further than others throughout the pandemic and hindered the speed of its recovery.

The retailer has completed the rollout of its new website to all markets, which remains non-transactional, but showcases an expanded range of products and enables shoppers to check store availability.

Primark is also expanding its UK click and collect trial, currently in 57 stores, to include selected womenswear products as well as the childrenswear and nursery items it launched with. “This will take Primark’s digital capabilities to a higher level, given the popularity of its womenswear, testing the robustness of its logistics before further extensions,” she says.

In the UK, Primark comes at number 2 in the top 10 apparel brands by market share and price positioning list, second only to Marks & Spencer. 

Primark, which was established in the year 1969 by Associated British Foods, plans to expand its global presence to 530 outlets by the end of 2026.

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