- Danielle Wightman-Stone |
Primark has confirmed that it plans to reopen 153 stores in England on June 15, following the recent announcement by the UK Government to ease lockdown restrictions and allow non-essential retail stores to open.
The fast-fashion retailer, which closed all of its UK stores on March 23, has stated that it will have “extensive measures” in place to help safeguard employees and customers, including social distancing protocols, hand sanitiser, perspex screens at tills and additional store cleaning.
Among the “strict” social distancing protocols announced, Primark stated it will limit the number of customers allowed in-store at any one time to allow for the “appropriate distance in between customers and employees”, which it added will be following government guidelines.
There will also be clear signage and floor decals, as well as dedicated employees and additional security staff, to guide customers through the store in a way that limits contact with others, and every second till will be closed to allow more space between customers and between employees.
Primark has also redesigned the layout of its stores to allow for more space between people by reconfiguring its queuing system at its till points to allow for social distancing. In addition, it will also temporarily closed off fitting rooms, customer toilets and its cafe and beauty concessions in stores which have them.
Primark chief executive, Paul Marchant, said in a statement: “As we re-open our stores in England, nothing matters more than the health and wellbeing of our colleagues and customers. We have really missed our customers and we are delighted to be back on June 15 and able to provide them with the quality, affordable products they love from Primark.
“We know that life for our customers is going to look different for a while. We want our stores to be safe and reassuring places to shop and work. While it might take a little longer to get into our stores, once inside, customers will find all their favourite Primark products and we have worked hard to make sure that clear signage and extra help will be there to guide them through the changes we have made to allow for social distancing.”
Primark shares safety measures it will introduce to reopen its 153 stores in England
In addition, there will be personal protection put in place for employees and customers added Primark including hand sanitiser stations available at the entrance and on the shop floor and back of house for employee and customer use, and face masks and gloves will be made available to all Primark employees. There will also be perspex screens installed on tills to protect customers and employees.
All returns will be managed in line with government advice, added the retailer, while all testers have been removed from the health and beauty department.
Primark will also be encouraging customers to use card payments and contactless when possible to minimise cash interactions, and has increased the limits for contactless payments.
Marchant, added: “We will adopt all government safety advice as a minimum in our stores and have benefited from our experience in the other markets in Europe where we have already opened successfully. As we open, we will continue to look at best practice across the retail sector and amend our measures appropriately.
“I would like to thank all of our colleagues and partners for the commitment, strength and resilience they have shown through these challenging times.”
The final safety measure will see Primark increasing its in-store cleaning schedule, particularly around high-frequency touchpoints such as tills, escalators, lifts, and employee areas in back of house. The retailer said that it has “invested significantly” in increasing the “frequency and rigour” of its store cleaning policy across all of its markets, and all stores will have a deep clean carried out before re-opening, and there will be a basket cleaning system introduced, so each basket handle is cleaned before use and sanitising wipes are made available for employees to sterilise baskets and cashpoints.
Primark to have 281 stores reopened globally by June 15
The company said that it expects to have reopened 281 of its stores globally by June 15, having already reopened 112 of its sites across mainland Europe, which will represent 79 percent of its total selling space.
The retailer said it is awaiting further guidance from the Government regarding the reopening of stores in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales but anticipates openings in “late June”.
By June 15, Primark will have also opened three new stores, which were planned to open in the financial third quarter, Mons in Belgium and Gropius in Berlin, Germany have already opened, and the third store will open in the Trafford Centre, Manchester.
At the start of the re-opening of stores, Primark stated it has 1.5 billion pounds of stock on hand and has also made a commitment to its suppliers for a further 0.4 billion pounds of stock. This compares to a typical stockholding of 0.9 billion pounds.
This excess stock it states is mainly comprised of "everyday continuity, non-fashion and non-seasonal, ranges and some excess spring/summer stock,” which it adds will be “sold in the normal course of business, albeit at a later date and without the need for special discounting beyond our normal practices”.
The Primark buying team has also conducted a detailed review of the spring/summer stock on hand and has earmarked certain products to be held in storage for sale in spring/summer 2021.
Primark said it is closely following all government safety advice and applying experience gained from its store reopenings across Europe and it has been “reassuring and encouraging” to see customer queues outside most stores that have already reopened.
Even with the encouraging larger basket sales, Primark has stated that its initial view in the implementation of social distancing could affect sales to some extent in the higher density stores, which represented some 10-20 percent of pre-Covid-19 total Primark sales as compliance to ensure social distancing means restricting the number of customers in-store at one time.
However, for those stores with low sales densities, the social distancing maximum will not restrict the sales densities previously achieved, even at peak times, while those stores with sales densities around the average, this maximum footfall will restrict sales densities at peak trading times, but Primark added that it expects some change in consumer behaviour which will help mitigate this effect.