Primark enjoys record sales after lockdown reopening that prompted huge queues at its Peterborough store

Budget clothing retailer Primark enjoyed record sales in its first week of reopening after lockdown.

By Paul Grinnell
Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 9:04 am

The fashion chain, which has a major store in Peterborough’s Queensgate shopping centre, says it was delighted with customers’ response as a four-month-long Covid temporary closure came to an end on April 12.

The easing of lockdown closure saw large queues outside the Peterborough store as eager shoppers flocked back to the store.

On the back of its success, the retailer has also vowed to pay back the money - £121 million - it received under the Job Retention Scheme, which allowed it to furlough staff with the Government paying up to 80 per cent of employees’ salaries.

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City Centre Covid 19 lockdown restrictions ease on April 12th. Queues for Primark EMN-211204-124011009

George Weston, chief executive of Primark owner, Associated British Foods (Abf), said: “We are excited about welcoming customers back into our stores as the lockdowns ease and are delighted with record sales in England and Wales in the week after reopening on April 12.

“Looking ahead, with stores reopening and Primark once again becoming cash generative, our confidence is reflected in our decisions to repay the job retention scheme monies in respect of this financial year.”

Mr Weston’s comments came as Abf released its interim results for the 24 weeks to February 27 this year, which covers most of the third national lockdown period.

He said: “With most of the Primark stores closed for more than half the period, the management team demonstrated operational agility in response to the measures employed by governments to tackle the pandemic.

City Centre Covid 19 lockdown restrictions ease on April 12th. Queues for Primark EMN-211204-123700009

“Primark sales after store reopenings demonstrate the relevance and appeal of our value-for-money offering.”

Mr Weston added that the future looked very bright for the retailer.

He said: “With our success in a number of new markets, as wide-ranging as Poland and Florida, we are as convinced as we have ever been in the long-term growth prospects for Primark.”

Over the 24 weeks, Abf, which also employs 350 people at British Sugar, AB Sugar, AB Mauri and ABF Ingredients at its offices in Cyrus Way, Hampton, Peterborough, saw group revenue fall 17 per cent to £6.3 billion compared to the same period last year with the plunge driven largely by the retail loss during lockdown.

Its adjusted operating profit dropped 46 per cent to £369 million also as a result of the contribution lost at Primark.

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