Anyone who has had the misfortune to walk into a branch of Primark at the wrong time will know that the budget retailer’s “stack ’em high and sell ’em cheap” philosophy means that shop floors can often resemble a jumble sale, with queues stretching at tills and changing rooms. So, it’s somewhat surprising that the brand has not yet ventured into the ever-expanding world of online shopping.
That all changed earlier this week when a selection of 20 womenswear pieces went live on Asos. “As an online fashion destination, Asos delivers an edit of the brands and product that are relevant to its 20-something target market. Primark is part of that mix,” a statement from Asos says.
So is this venture a sign of Primark testing the water for its own online venture with little collateral damage should it fail? A source at Asos says: “The Primark lines have been bought in line with how we buy product from all other brands.”
Asos began life in 2000, selling own-brand clothing “inspired” by items seen on film and TV actors (hence “as seen on screen”). Since then, the site has grown to also encompass high street brands and designers including Peter Jensen, House of Holland and Jonathan Saunders.
Indeed, 65 per cent of its sales now come from outside the UK. Perhaps Primark, which has been sold in Selfridges department stores since 2011, is hoping to attract a more international customer for its youthful, trend-led products, which include cut-out mini-dresses for £15 and woven cropped tops for just £8. The brand recently opened its first store in Berlin and has its sights on Paris. While rock-bottom prices may appeal to some, we are still to see whether the recent factory collapse in Bangladesh – where some Primark lines were made – will impact sales, which were reported as £ 1,997 2bn in April. If it doesn’t, its wil relish a new way to avoid the Saturday afternoon high street chaos. For 20 items, at least.