Today Primark opened the doors to its largest ever store. At 161,000 sq ft over five floors, the store in Birmingham officially entered the record books as the world's largest fashion retail store.
More than fashion
The UK's 187th Primark offers shoppers much more than just the latest fashions at affordable prices. The store includes a hair and beauty salon and barber shop concessions in partnership with renowned experts, as well as three restaurants, two coffee kiosks and a custom t-shirt printing lab. One of the new restaurants is a Disney cafe featuring interactive tables for children, whilst 'The Mezz' offers on-trend food including hand-stretched pizzas, fresh salad and burritos, and Primarket Cafe provides all day coffee shop options.
Increasingly retailers like Primark are using retail spaces in creative ways to offer shoppers experiences that cannot be replicated online. Foodservice plays an important part in this development. Recent years have seen Next partner with celebrity chef Gino D'Acampo to open an Italian restaurant in the brand's Manchester store, whilst H&M launched the instagram-friendly It's Pleat cafe in four international locations, including London's Westfield shopping centre. In their latest store, Primark have partnered with contract caterer Aramark to develop the food offering and have employed a general manager to oversee operations across the three restaurants.
But it's not all about food. In-store services, like the beauty salon and barber shop in Primark's new store, are something we're seeing other retailers, notably drugstore operators, use to drive footfall. They offer a point of difference versus online and in a massive experiential store like this fit well with younger shoppers’ desire to play and experiment in beauty too.
(Retail Analysis subscribers can see more examples of how retail stores are exploring health and beauty here)
Succeeding on the high street
As big names such as BHS, House of Fraser and Debenhams hit the headlines for their decline, Primark appears to be going from strength to strength. Its model is different to other UK fashion retailers and department stores: it spends nothing on advertising and has no online presence. However its positioning as 'fast fashion' is clear and shoppers know what they are going to get from its products . By ensuring its customers have to go in-store to buy, the brand benefits from impulse purchases. Whereas other department stores have been criticised for lacking investment and innovation, Primark's latest store shows that it is willing to invest in 'experience retail' to offer shoppers more reasons to visit, and stay, in its stores.