Penneys is one of the biggest success stories to come out of Ireland.
Their international brand ‘Primark’ is now spreading across Europe and even into the USA, selling affordable fashion at the lower end of the market with great success.
Irish shoppers’ eyes light up when you talk about Penneys, so we decided to share 16 interesting facts about the huge high street fashion retailer…
1. What’s now a global force started right here in a small premises on Mary Street
It was June 1969 when Arthur Ryan opened the first shop in Dublin, with demand being so high that he quickly added another four over the coming couple of years.
2. The name was changed to Primark for legal reasons
When Penneys moved into the UK in 1974, they decided to change their name to Primark to avoid legal action by the large American retailer JCPenney.
3. They got into trouble a few years ago over their mannequins
Some of the mannequins they were using in their stores showed protruding ribs, which many claimed put pressure on young women to be thin.
Resulting in a media backlash
— Marie Guerlain (@MarieGuerlain) August 5, 2014
Primark responded quickly and withdrew them
@Melfyx We’re currently changing our window displays. The mannequins you describe will not be used in this way again.
— Primark (@Primark) July 24, 2014
4. The largest Primark is in Manchester
It covers a whopping 155,000 square ft (14,400 square metres) and is spread out over three floors, so you can shop to your heart’s content.
That’s a lot of Penneys.
5. There are now over 290 stores
What started in Dublin is now a brand that stretches all across Ireland, the UK, Europe and the USA.
6. £1 In every £10 spent on clothes in the UK is spent at Primark
A seriously big achievement.
7. They employ over 50,000 people worldwide
And that number continues to rise as new stores open and can swell even further during busy periods like Christmas and the sales.
8. A ‘cry for help’ note was found at a Primark in Belfast
The controversy surrounding Primark goes far beyond mannequins.
This note was found in the pocket of a pair of trousers that a women bought in Belfast. It was written in Chinese and said that the workers were forced to work 15-hour days and given food not fit for animals when making the clothes.
Primark have carried out investigations, and claimed such notes to be hoaxes.
9. They are worth $19 billion
Primark has been described by City analysts as “a roaring success” and has gone from strength to strength and the investment bank UBS recently valued them at $19 billion and rising fast.
10. Store openings get ridiculous queues
It isn’t just the Irish and English who know about the great deals in Primark. Most of their new shop openings across Europe need barriers, several bouncers and crowd control systems.
He sobrevivido al Primark de Gran Vía!!! Y no he tenido que hacer cola!!! pic.twitter.com/FcJaZq0ijq
— Victor Sahuillo (@victorsahuillo) October 23, 2015
11. They paid £6m in compensation to Bangladeshi families
This was after a building collapsed in Bangladesh, killing 1,100 workers who had been making Primark clothes, as well as clothes for other brands.
Primark was one of the only brands to pay.
12. They opened a beauty bar
The beauty bar was a place to get nails and brows done at their Liverpool, Manchester and Mary’s Street stores, offering reasonably priced cosmetic treatments.
13. Chairman Arthur Ryan was a tie buyer
He started off buying ties and was the guiding force behind their huge growth until he retired in 2009. He’s an intensely private man who always travels with bodyguards and never gives interviews.
14. We spend £5 billion a year with Primark
Their stuff may seem cheap, but the chain that began with a humble little shop on Dublin’s Mary Street now brings in a cool £5bn annually.
15. Keeping it Irish in the USA
Penneys will try to do what so many other chains have failed to do and that’s crack America, having launched their first store stateside in Boston in 2014.