Covid-19: Primark stores in England set to reopen 15 June

Primark has announced it is working on reopening its 153 stores in England on 15 June, in line with the UK government’s lifting of lockdown restrictions.

Primark owner, Associated British Foods, said it will take health and safety learnings from its reopened stores in parts of Europe and the US where measures have already been eased. Currently, Primark has 34% of its total selling space in use. Within two weeks it plans to reopen 281 stores, equalling 79% of its selling space.

UK stores will feature social distancing, hand sanitiser stations, perspex screens at the check-out, and additional cleaning of high frequency touch points. Personal protection, including masks and gloves, will also be made available to all employees.

All Primark stores closed in March to help tackle the spread of Covid-19 around the world.

While most non-essential retailers turned to ploughing efforts into supporting their eCommerce operations, Primark’s continued avoidance of this channel over the years meant the retailer had zero income during the last couple of months. Primark said it witnessed a £650 million loss for every month stores were shuttered.

The retailer said it took a number of actions to “substantially reduce the cash outflow resulting from this loss of sales”, including cancellation of future orders and measures to reduce operating overhead while stores were closed; government employment retention schemes across Europe; and temporary voluntary reduction in salaries for employees not covered by the various schemes. Primark is also continuing to talk to landlords to renegotiate terms in its leases. Thanks to these actions, the retailer exceeded its estimate of a 50% reduction in overheads over the last two months.

Last week, John Lewis and Boots were among the big-name retailers detailing plans to accommodate shoppers coming back to the high street, and there will be more retailers looking at how to reopen their doors safely come 15 June.

If you are interested in learning more, Essential Retail is hosting two webinars in the coming weeks which will tackle the difficult topic of reopening stores while keeping staff and shoppers safe:

The future of the store post-Covid-19

Covid-19: How do we get Britain retailing again?