May 22, 2018
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Primark to gain top UK clothing retailer title from M&S say analysts

May 22, 2018

Primark is on the verge of taking over the lead as the top clothing seller in the UK as the budget fashion retailer continues to grow and current number one M&S battles major headwinds.

M&S (left) has been losing clothing market share while Primark (right) has been winning it

M&S seems to be rarely out of the news at the moment and with its full-year results due on Wednesday, that situation is unlikely to change. But on Tuesday, after its news of further planned store closures, the analysts at research firm GlobalData said its leading position is under threat.

Maureen Hinton, GlobalData’s group retail research director, said: “Marks & Spencer has dominated the UK clothing market for decades, but its lead as number one is perilously close to being lost to Primark.” And she believes its lower-priced rival could take over at some point during this year if its store closures aren’t countered by fast growth online.

“The closure of yet more [M&S] stores will hasten the decline unless it can shift the lost sales to its online channel and transfer to its other stores,” she added. “But it also has to start growing total non-food sales to stem the overall decline.”

M&S’s share of the UK clothing market has been on a downward trajectory for more than two decades since its sales and profits declines began back in the late 1990s.

It reached its largest ever share of the UK market in 1997, with 13.5%. That share had declined to 9.7% a decade ago but is now an even lower 7.6%, according to GlobalData’s 2018 estimate. Primark, which was on only 4.4% in 2008 is now snapping at M&S’s heels on an estimated 7%.

But while M&S has suffered from growing rivals winning market share, the process has also hurt other well-established players. Next, on 6.6%, is down from a 6.7% share in 2008, Arcadia on 3.8% is down from 5.3%, and Debenhams is down from 3.3% to 2.7%.

Asda’s share has remained flat at 3.5% over the period, but elsewhere, it’s a picture of growth. GlobalData said that TK Maxx has risen from 2.2% to an estimated 3.1% in the last 10 years while Tesco is up to 2.9% from 2.5%, JD Sports is up to 2.7% from 1.1% and Sports Direct is on 2.4%, up from 1.3%.

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