Primark hires international trading chief

The discount clothing giant Primark has hired a former Marks & Spencer director to be its new international trading chief, as it ramps up its international expansion.

Julian Kilmartin is to join the Associated British Foods-owned retailer as buying and merchandising director for Ireland and international. However, it is understood he is in effect the replacement for Guy Young, the international trading director who left earlier this month. Mr Young had been hired from rival C&A on the Continent in the summer of 2008. Primark declined to comment.

Mr Kilmartin was the former trading director of menswear at M&S, but he has also previously held roles at Next and Moss Bros.

The hiring of Mr Kilmartin comes as Primark’s founder and chairman Arthur Ryan, 74, prepares to step down as managing director in the autumn. After he moves aside, Paul Marchant, Primark’s chief operating officer, will become chief executive. But Mr Ryan will stay on as chairman for a period before retiring.

Primark has 190 stores in the UK, Ireland – where it trades as Penneys – Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Germany. It plans to enter Belgium, with a store in Liège, in November and launch in Austria next year.

For the 16 weeks to 20 June, the retailer's sales surged by 21 per cent. While ABF did not reveal like-for-like sales, City analysts put the figure at growth of 7 to 8 per cent.