Primark, the Irish fast-fashion retailer, will open a store in Fashion District Philadelphia on Sept. 16, at the corner of 11th and Market Streets, hoping to revitalize a mall where the former owner declared bankruptcy and lost control of the property.
Primark is among the few retailers that does no business online, instead relying on sharply lower prices for such items as homeware, women’s and men’s clothing, children’s, beauty, footwear and more. The Fashion District will be home to Primark’s 13th location in the United States, one of its 397 stores in 14 countries.
“We are delighted to welcome Philadelphians to our latest Northeast location in the U.S., bringing Primark’s unique formula of quality fashion, beauty and home ware with an amazing price tag,” said Andy Stewart, President of Primark US in a news release.
According to Stewart, 350 employees will work in the new Fashion District store, adding to 2,500 current employees in the U.S. Primark has 10 depots across Europe and the U.S., including one in Bethlehem, Pa., which employs more than 70 people.
“We had a very positive recruitment process here in Philadelphia, and we were fortunate to receive over 2,000 applications. We hope to finalize our recruitment process this week but any future job opportunities will be posted” on Primark’s website here, he said in written answers to emailed questions.
Primark has been steadily growing since it first opened a U.S. store in 2015. In recent years, it expanded to Florida and Chicago. The company also signed leases for a new store in Virginia and two new stores in Queens and Long Island, New York.
In Pennsylvania, Primark has stores at the King of Prussia Mall and Willow Grove Mall, and in New Jersey, the Freehold Raceway Mall and American Dream Mall.
Founded in Ireland in 1969 under the Penney’s brand name, Primark does business in countries in Europe and North America, with more than 65,000 employees. It is a unit of London-based Associated British Foods PLC.
The Fashion District Philadelphia mall has struggled during the pandemic. Owner PREIT, the biggest mall owner in Philadelphia and surrounding counties, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Nov. 1 with a prepackaged restructuring plan supported by most of its creditors. It exited bankruptcy over the summer. PREIT’s properties include the Cherry Hill Mall, Willow Grove Park, and Plymouth Meeting Mall, in addition to the Fashion District.
On Jan. 1, PREIT’s 50-50 partner in the Fashion District — Macerich Co., of Santa Monica, Calif. — took control of the mall’s operations.
Macerich is a publicly traded real estate investment trust and developer of regional malls throughout the country. It owns 50 million square feet of real estate consisting primarily of 46 regional shopping centers in densely populated markets on the West Coast, in Arizona and the New York to Washington corridor.
Macerich’s portfolio includes Tysons Corner Center in Northern Virginia. “Tenant sales have recovered to pre-pandemic levels while foot traffic remains at 90% of 2019 levels, demonstrating the consumer wants to venture to the company’s higher-end class-A properties,” said Floris van Dijkum, managing director and equity analyst at Compass Point LLC investment bank, in a research report.
The Fashion District was challenged, as urban locations fared worse during the pandemic. But urban living will get popular again, as it’s being repriced compared with the suburbs, van Dijkum noted.
But Primark also felt the sting of the pandemic. “We went through an extraordinarily challenging and uncertain time over the past 18 months,” CEO Stewart wrote. “But we are a strong and resilient business, with a loyal customer base and we believe strongly in the bricks-and-mortar retail model. Having experienced a strong return after reopening our U.S. stores, the pandemic has proved that people are social, and they still enjoy the in-person experience that will never be available online,” Stewart said.
The company considers its King of Prussia store a “success” he said. “The U.S. is a very important market for Primark, and this store opening, along with our other recent lease signings, marks our ongoing commitment and expansion plans in the U.S. We are also excited to be supporting this historic city’s rebound by creating over 350 new jobs for the local economy.”