Milan, the must-shop stop, welcomes Primark

13 Dec 2018

Primark intends to open a store in Milan city centre. But this is not its first Italian store: the brand first appeared in Italy when the Arese Shopping Centre opened in 2016. Further openings are planned for shopping centres in Roncadelle, Campi Bisenzio and Verona. This will be the Irish fast-fashion giant’s first city-based venture.

Primark in Milan

Milan is a natural choice and already a stronghold for Primark’s main competitor Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), which has eight stores and has been caught up in many predicaments over the past two years. The opening date is shrouded in secrecy. But maybe caution is a good idea; just think back to the recurring rumours about a Starbucks opening up nearby in the past. Italians were taunted with that for several years.

Defying superstitions surrounding the city-centre location on Via Torino, Primark still chose the building which was also occupied by Fnac, Billa, and Trony in the past but never had the best of luck. Yet this Milanese building has everything a retail store needs: 10,000 m2 across seven floors. According to a report by Business Insider, Primark has even secured the building at a good price (a yearly rent of 2.5 million with a twenty-year contract).

A fast-fashion district

The running costs incurred for stores in the Italian shopping centres formed the premise on which Associated British Foods, the holding parent company of Primark, based its decision to open in Milan. The Milanese marketplace seems to have all the right qualities for replicating the brand’s success in other cities. The Primark offering includes womenswear, menswear, and childrenswear, beauty products and homeware. Everything is sold at very competitive prices which is why the retailer has found favour with a broad cross-section of consumers.

At this point the area chosen for the new opening will effectively become a fast-fashion district. Pimkie and Terranova already have stores on Via Torino, and the nearby Piazza Cordusio is also welcoming Uniqlo, the Japanese clothing multinational with a very similar offering to Primark, in November 2019.

Primark worldwide

Arthur Ryan opened the first store in Dublin in June 1969. The company operates in Ireland under its original name of Penneys, but changed the name to Primark in the 1970s to avoid legal action. Expansion to the United Kingdom would have caused conflict with the J. C. Penney department store chain.

Primark now has 75,000 employees in just under 400 stores worldwide. The largest store to date is in Manchester, occupying 14,400 m2 of retail space across three floors. The Irish company closed its last financial year with sales of £7.47 billion (about €8.4 billion), compared with £7 billion the previous year.