James Moore: Primark is the best summer seller

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The Independent Online

Love it or loathe it, you can't avoid it – at least not anymore. As we report today, Primark became Britain's biggest clothes retailer by sales volumes over the summer. That is a position that has traditionally been occupied by Marks and Spencer (although Asda briefly nosed into the lead last summer) and Primark's ascent is a shot right across Marc Bolland's bows. There will be no time for him to get too comfy at his no doubt splendidly appointed desk at the M&S Lubyanka.

Cheap and cheerful clobber is proving a winning formula. Sourced from, well... yes. Primark says that it is being more selective now in the hope of avoiding the sort of scandal it had to contend with in 2008 when a supplier sub-contracted work to a business that made use of child labour. But (sadly) it would hardly be alone in making use of territories where labour is cheap and union rights limited, if not non-existent.

M&S will likely be back atNo 1 by the new year, so don't fret too much just yet. Primark does well over the summer because it sells vest tops, T-shirts and bikinis (but not for seven-year-olds anymore). During the winter chill, though, people drift over to M&S to buy their coats, woollens and other warmers. But for how long? Primark is a business made for the the sober decade. The only question it faces is how much time before Associated British Foods decides it is time to cash in. Mr Bolland's challenge is to find some way of responding. His shop might be the king of winter for now. But Primark is coming for him and the company has the wind well and truly in its (cheap) sails.