Saturday, 28 Nov 2020

Primark boss calls for shops to be allowed to open 24 hours when lockdown ends

Primark chief George Weston has called for 24 hours opening times to avoid a "mad scrum" from December 2.

Planning ahead for when non-essential shops can open up for business again after England's second national lockdown, Primark's parent company is calling for extended trading hours.

It is hoped that giving customers more time in the day to shop, will help retailers make up for sales lost from Thursday 5 November.

On Tuesday George Weston, chief executive of Primark parent company Associated British Foods said making opening hours on Sundays longer in particular, "would help us, help consumers, help the high street".

Weston continued: "In some locations, we could even open 24 hours. We know the demand is going to be there.

"It would be easier to limit numbers in stores if we could say to people 'you can come back at these other times'."

The discount fashion giant which does not sell items online warned on Monday that the latest wave of restrictions which is forcing shut shops in the UK, Spain and Ireland, would cost it about £375m of lost sales.

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Primark claims to have lost £650m a month of sales during the first lockdowns in spring, leading the company to now hold talks with landlords about financial assistance and the government’s extended furlough scheme.

Weston has ruled out moving towards online sales despite the new lockdown rules in the UK allowing non-essential retailers to run click-and-collect services.

He said: "I don’t think click-and-collect would work. We have a high footfall, low price model. The logistics would be very difficult."

Instead of the £1bn of operating profit, Primark predicted for the first time in its history ahead of this financial year, the company made just £362m in the 12 months to September, down from £969m last year.

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