Often Primark is asked how it can combine low prices with good standards in the supply chain. There’s no secret. Primark’s business is based on doing a few things differently to other brands, which is how it keeps its prices low:
- It sells a lot of items. This means it’s able to make savings from buying in bulk for all their stores.
- It does very little advertising.
- It designs clothes that offer the latest trend but doesn’t use expensive hangers, tags or labels.
- It also tries to be as efficient as possible when transporting products from factories to stores. This includes things like asking suppliers to pack t-shirts so they are ready to go straight on shelf.
These decisions mean it makes savings at every stage of the supply chain. It’s how Primark keeps prices low. But the standards it expects are high.
Primark does not own factories and is very selective about who it works with. The welfare of the people making its products matters to Primark.
Before it places an order with a new supplier Primark audits each factory to check whether internationally recognised standards are being met. Once approved, it’s the job of the Ethical Trade and Environmental Sustainability Team, a group of more than 100 experts based in key sourcing countries, to help factories meet these standards. They audit suppliers at least once a year, sometimes more, so that they can get a detailed picture of what conditions are like inside the factory.
As well as working directly with suppliers and their factories, Primark believes it can play a role alongside other retailers, NGOs and other organisations, to improve ethical and environmental standards in the industry. That’s why it’s a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. In 2014 it committed to Greenpeace’s Detox Campaign and is a founding member of the ACT initiative on wages. Primark has also been a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative since 2006 and achieved the top level ‘leadership’ status since 2011.