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Is Prada posher than Primark? Not in the service stakes

The designer label has slipped down the shopping chart since last year

It seems that the devil doesn’t just wear Prada, but works there too – as a new independent guide to London shops has awarded it a rating of just two out of five ‘shopping bags’ for its customer service. Indeed, visitors to the boutique on Bond Street in central London may be surprised to find out that the same level of service was awarded to discount store Primark.

Compiled by milliner Tracy Rose and her husband Russell, the new edition of Fashion Fabulous London, the third in the series, reveals a surprisingly low score for the Italian brand.

On her visit to the store, where luxury goods come with large price tags, Ms Rose struggled to find assistance; waiting for five minutes after the security guard paged someone to attend to her needs. She writes: “Once there, it seemed that the sales assistant had problems with person recognition, or maybe that she had come off a trance training course.”

One of a dozen stores and concessions that the brand has in the capital, the Bond Street boutique was praised for its “cool mint green and modern geometric décor”, helping the 100-year-old brand pick up full marks for ‘wow factor’ and ‘choice’ on the Roses’ shopping bag scale, which the brand’s head Miuccia Prada will surely be reassured to learn. Ms Prada is known in fashion circles as a visionary – often inspiring the mood of a season with her work. The designer was unavailable for comment.

Instead of setting trends, however, Primark is known for creating copy-cat versions of designer clothes and sell them at prices that are a tiny fraction of those of the real thing.

Huge volumes of orders ensure a healthy profit from the unfeasibly cheap clothes, as does outsourced production to factories such as that in Bangladesh which collapsed last month, killing over 1,000 workers. Although Primark is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative, the low prices of its garments continues to cause controversy.

In her review of the womenswear department of the 80,000 square foot Oxford Street store, which opened last September, Ms Rose found service at the till “actually very friendly”, causing the service rating to be doubled.

Stores are notoriously messy, thanks to the pile-them-high, sell-them-cheap business model, but the Roses do not mention this in their review.

While the service style may vary between different brands and sizes of store, the Roses, who carried out reviews of the 200 featured shops themselves, believe that good service speaks for itself and they judge it accordingly, visiting independent retailers, boutiques and vintage stores.`