September 2014: Paul Marchant, CEO, Primark

Business Person of the Month | Mon 6 Oct | Author – Business & Finance
Paul Marchant, Business Person of the Month
Pictured: Ian Hyland, CEO, Business & Finance; Barry O’Connor, partner, Merc Partners; Paul Merchant, CEO, Primark

With Paul Marchant at the helm of one of Europe’s largest clothing retailers, Primark’s financial performance continues to exceed expectations, as does the number of store openings.

Sales at Primark for the full year are expected to be 17% ahead of last year, driven by an increase in retail selling space, like-for-like sales growth –– and superior sales densities in the new stores.

The operating profit margin of 13.1% in the first half was higher than last year reflecting the benefit of warehouse and distribution efficiencies and lower freight rates. These benefits continued in the second half and, with the strong trading over the summer resulting in a low level of markdowns, it is expected that the margin for the full year will be slightly higher.

Primark, which employs over 58,000 people including over 5,000 in Ireland, increased its selling space by 1.2 million sq ft and opened 28 new stores across Europe in the last financial year (ended September 13th 2014). Since then a further three stores have opened – in Porto, Portugal and in Venlo and Arnhem in The Netherlands. This brings the total estate to 281 stores.

In addition, there is a strong pipeline of new stores in Europe extending over a number of years. Responding to the increasing scale of its business in continental Europe, Primark doubled the size of its warehouse in Torija, Spain and the Mönchengladbach warehouse in Germany, which is being extended by 60% and will become operational early in 2015.

Primark also announced in April that it is to take the Primark concept to consumers in the north east of the USA. A lease for some 70,000 sq ft of selling space at Downtown Crossing in the heart of Boston, Massachusetts has been signed and the store will open in late 2015. Negotiations are under way to secure further stores in the north east with the intention of trading from up to 10 stores by end 2016.

Founded in June 1969 in the Republic of Ireland, where it continues to trade as Penneys, Primark is a subsidiary of Associated British Foods, an international food, ingredients and retail group with global sales of £13.3bn, and 113,000 employees in 47 countries.

Paul Marchant has been the CEO of Primark/Penneys 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.


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.

Merc logoBusiness & Finance, Business Person of the Month

Business & Finance, in association with MERC Partners, has been rewarding excellence in business through the ‘Business Person of the Month’ award over the last number of years. These awards seek to recognise noteworthy achievements in business leadership, and particularly those that make a telling contribution to the wider business community in Ireland.