Primark Is Coming to the U.S.

Just what we need: More fast fashion!
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Dhani Mau
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Just what we need: More fast fashion!
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Another European fast fashion retailer is setting up shop in the states. UK-based Primark, which currently has 271 stores in nine countries in Europe, announced Wednesday that it plans to open its first U.S. store in Boston towards the end of next year, with negotiations in the works for more East Coast locations (presumably including New York).

It's going to have a lot of competition here -- both from European imports like Topshop, Zara and H&M, as well as Canada's Joe Fresh, Japan's Uniqlo and local retailers Forever 21 and Gap. Primark also doesn't sell online, which could be seen as another disadvantage: one, because it won't be able to determine where to open brick-and-mortar stores based on where it's delivering online orders, as other retailers do; and two, because it limits Primark's reach to areas where it has stores.

It's also worth noting that the company has faced a bit of bad press in recent months: It was among the retailers having products made in one of the Bangladeshi factories that collapsed last year (almost exactly a year ago, in fact), killing over 1,000.

That said, Primark has since worked to compensate victims and their families, and has seen a 14 percent sales rise and 26 percent profit increase from September 2013 to March of this year.

Primark points to its success breaking into other markets with in Europe such as Spain and France, which is notoriously challenging, as reason enough to give the U.S. a go. It also says it's done "extensive research" on the U.S. market. Plus, if it's done well in the UK's hyper-competitive high street market with its cheap-chic products (we're talking £42.50 for an entire outfit including shoes and accessories cheap), why wouldn't it succeed here?

Perhaps it's chosen Boston for its lack of fast fashion competition compared to New York. The space will be at Downtown Crossing in the Burnham Building, the former home of Filene's Basement, which closed in late-2011. Hopefully Primark will fare better than Filene's did.