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ABF's Primark heads for the US

By Tess De La Mare

Primark, the budget fashion chain owned by the Weston family's Associated British Foods (ABF), is setting up shop in the US.

Primark has become the powerhouse of its parent company due to its ability to quickly turn catwalk ideas into high street fashion at rock bottom prices, and it saw profits jump 26% to £298 million (€362 million) in the six-month period ended 1 March.

The first US store, a 70,000 sq ft property in Boston, Massachusetts, is due to open in 2015, and it is in negotiations to open further stores in the north-east of the country.

Despite the failure of other British stores in the US, namely Marks & Spencer, WH Smith and Tesco, Primark said it had decided to enter the market after extensive research.

Primark is already present in several countries, including Spain, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands as well as the UK, and opened two stores in France last year.

ABF, currently headed by third-generation chief executive George Weston, was implicated in the Rana Plaza disaster in April 2013, where more than a thousand garment workers were killed when a factory collapsed.

Primark, ABF's only retail subsidiary, was one of several international companies commissioning clothes from the factory, but was one of the first to pledge compensation to survivors and victims' families.

The reputation crisis didn't have much impact on Primark's sales, despite protests outside it's flagship Oxford Street store in London, it still had revenues of £4.3 billion in 2013 – up 22% on the previous year.