Business Person of the Month

February 2017: Paul Marchant, CEO, Primark

By Business & Finance
20 March 2017
Paul Marchant Primark

Paul Marchant will be hoping Primark’s newly opened seventh US store at Staten Island Mall will bolster the fashion retailer’s presence within the lucrative US market.

The retailer, which operates as Penneys in Ireland, has opened a 55,000 sq ft store in Staten Island just 18 months after it first entered the US market with the opening of a Boston store.

Since September 2015, Primark has opened in Burlington Mall in Massachusetts, King of Prussia Mall and Willow Grove Mall in Pennsylvania, Freehold Raceway Mall in New Jersey, and Danbury Fair Mall in Connecticut.

The Dublin-run company, owned by Associated British Foods (ABF), will employ 200 staff at the new Staten Island store.

Primark is ABF’s biggest profit maker and is expected to deliver a 22% increase in sales during the first half of the group’s financial year. It has been reported that a weak sterling has given a €58.6m profit boost to ABF.

As a result of new store openings and expansions, ABF has stated that Primark sales would be up 12%. Primark generated an operating profit of €367m in the first half of the last financial year, with sales at €3.1bn.


Primark is Britain’s biggest fashion retailer by volume and is continuing to grow its market share throughout the UK. The fashion chain has also stated its plans to open ten new stores and create 2,000 jobs in the UK during 2017.

Founded in June 1969 in the Republic of Ireland, Primark has 330 stores in 11 countries (Ireland, the UK, Spain, Portugal, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, France, the US and Italy) and employs over 69,000 people. Paul Marchant has been the company’s CEO since September 2009, replacing the retail chain’s veteran founder, Arthur Ryan.

Previous to this position, he was chief operating officer of New Look Retail Group. Marchant has also served as trading director for clothing at Debenhams and buying roles at clothing chain Topman and River Island.

In Ireland, Penneys operates in 36 stores, offering a diverse range of products, stocking everything from baby, kid’s, women’s and men’s wear to homeware, accessories, beauty products and confectionery.


In February, Primark also released new numbers revealing the impact of its Sustainable Cotton Programme on women smallholders in India. Set up in 2013, the Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme is a partnership between Primark, agricultural experts CottonConnect, and the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA).

The programme trains women smallholders in sustainable farming methods, so they can improve their livelihoods through increased income. In total, 1,251 farmers participated in the first three years of the programme and in 2016 Primark announced that the programme would be extended to reach a further 10,000 farmers over a six-year period.

Farmers received training and support from CottonConnect and SEWA experts on the ground through classroom sessions, in-field training and learning groups.

They were also trained on the most appropriate farming techniques for their land, from seed selection, sowing, soil, water, pesticide and pest management, to picking, fibre quality, grading and storage of the harvested cotton.

CV highlights

  • Paul Marchant is CEO of Primark, a position he has held since 2009.
  • Marchant has held a number of senior management roles in retail throughout his extensive career.
  • Previously, Marchant was chief operating officer of New Look Retail Group.
  • He was also trading director at Debenhams.