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Primark: 'Birmingham has transformed its retail offering'

This Thursday Primark opened its biggest-ever store on Birmingham High Street, with five floors of fashion, beauty and food. Before the grand opening, Drapers sat down with its director of new business development, Tim Kelly, to learn more about the retailer’s largest global store.

Why Birmingham?

Birmingham is an amazing city – the second biggest in the UK. It’s an incredible fusion of cultures and is open and connected to the world. We’ve done a lot of work with our customers in Birmingham, and you’ll see references to the city all around the store. In our mezzanine level we’ve dug deep into the heritage of Birmingham and brought out a lot of facts about what makes the city so special.

Birmingham has transformed its retail offering over the last couple of years. The Pavilion had 49 separate retailers. Today it houses one – the world’s biggest Primark. 

With turmoil on the high street and many retailers embarking upon store closure programmes, why does Primark continue to invest in its store portfolio?

Primark is traditionally a bricks-and-mortar retailer and although we have an online presence via our website and more than 14 million social media followers, our customers like to come to store to buy. It’s about having the right product within your store. That’s what the customers come to Primark for.

This offering brings them additional experiences to make the shopping journey even more pleasurable. We innovate, from fashion to service to concessions to experience, and that is something that makes us who we are.

Coming into this store today we are an all-inclusive retailer and we believe we cater for everyone. 

How does this model fit to the way that consumers are now shopping?

The retail landscape is changing. It’s challenging, and retail is now about innovation – it’s about bringing new experiences to your customers. At Primark we’ve been trialling and testing new concepts over the past couple of years from coffee shops with third parties to beauty studios to T-shirt printing. Today we’re bringing the best of everything to this magnificent store. 

How has Primark incorporated sustainability into the Birmingham store?

Sustainability is extremely important to us. Not only are the Primark brown paper bags made of recycled paper, but 94% of our paper and plastic waste from the store goes back to our depots for recycling. We will not be selling any single-use plastic water bottles in our stores.

We’ve also got a building management system certified to the highest standards, so, from an energy perspective, this store is very lean and efficient.

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