Primark sets its sights on Tunbridge Wells…

Millie Masterson 2

Clothing retailer Primark could soon be opening a store in Tunbridge Wells.

The Times understands the Ireland-based company has shown an interest in the BHS site in Royal Victoria Place (RVP).

When the news of BHS going into administration broke last month there was a great deal of uncertainty surrounding what would happen to the Tunbridge Wells branch.

The owners of the two-storey unit are M&G Real Estate – a division of the Prudential. The BHS site is not owned by RVP, although it falls within the shopping centre.

At the time of the administration being announced, M&G Real Estate said they were ‘working with other retailers’ who had shown an interest in occupying any one of the 12 stores within their portfolio, including Tunbridge Wells.

Since then, sources within sector said one of those who had expressed an interest in taking over part of the BHS unit was Wilko.

They said the discount homeware chain wanted to occupy one of the two floors, which they viewed as being a more preferable alternative to the former HMV site currently earmarked for Wilko.

However, the sources told the Times Wilko ceased enquiries into the viability of moving into the BHS site after Primark made an offer ‘that couldn’t be refused’.

They said: “Wilko looked into the BHS site as soon as it was announced the company had gone into administration, as one floor would have been much better than the old HMV site they have at present.

“Primark, though, had been eyeing the site for a while and had made an offer that couldn’t be refused.”

A spokesman for Primark said last night [Tuesday]: “Unfortunately, the company doesn’t comment on speculation around store openings.”

Wilko said they will not comment on reports about being outbid.

A spokesman for M&G Real Estate said: “We’re currently in a period where different retailers are expressing an interest in one or more stores and while nothing is confirmed as yet we will provide an update as soon as we can.”

Primark, a subsidiary of Associated British Foods, has expanded rapidly in the last 15 years. It bought the Littlewoods chain for £409m in 2005, selling 79 of the 119 stores.

But the company has come under fire over its working practices, with the charity War on Want criticising the low wages and dire conditions endured by clothing makers in factories in India and Bangladesh – and claiming that many of them are children.

What makes Primark so appealing to the masses

Primark- or ‘Primarni’ as it’s often dubbed by those in the know, thanks to its knack of pulling off brilliant designer style copies – is a savvy fashion shopper’s retail nirvana.

Owned by the Irish brand Penneys, it came to the UK in 1973, opening its first British store in Derby. But it’s only really been in the last decade or so that it’s really hit fashion’s hot spot.

The reason is simple. Its wealth of talented designers have a fantastic eye for spotting key trends and then making them their own – for a fraction of the catwalk price tag.

The brains behind the Primark brand, which now has stores in France and the States, counts cool stylists and celebrities such as pop band Little Mix among its ever-growing clientele, who all know it’s the place to shop for those fickle fashion items you fancy for a Friday night out as well as good quality basics.

In short, they successfully capture the style zeitgeist season after season without stinging their customers with a huge bill at the till.

So it really doesn’t matter if you’re into harem trousers or bejewelled kaftans one week and then go off them the next, you’ve still been able to trial a trend with-out spending a fortune.

But it’s not just female fashion that Primark excels in. It also sells cool, inexpensive casual clothes for men and good quality trendy items for children, not to mention brilliantly priced sports and beachwear.

Then of course there is the huge variety of accessories. Whether you fancy a statement bejewelled bib necklace, a Peter Pan lace collar, an oversized tote or funky espadrilles, you’ll find them all in Primark and still have change left for a night out to wear them.

With over 160 stores nationwide in the UK, some of which offer different ranges depending on their locations, Primark is not content with just selling us the must-have fashion items of the day. They’ve also recently branched into home-wear and are now offering shoppers a stylish array of things to instantly cheer up your pad, again without spending a fortune.

LED lights, super soft throws and funky crockery are just a few of the bargains you’ll pick up while you’re getting your fashion fix. What’s not to like about that?

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