Fashion retailer Benes plans to create 700 new jobs as part of a €250 million capital investment and redevelopment programme.
The plan would see the company increase total retail space in Ireland by 20% over the next decade.
The expansion will include a new store in The Square in Tallaght that will open in the fall of next year, employing 300 people.
There will also be a €60 million investment in the redevelopment and expansion of the Patrick Street department store in Cork City, while €20 million will be pumped into the expansion at the Erie Square outlet in Galway.
€75 million will also be spent on a new 5,550,000-square-foot distribution center in Newbridge, Co-Kilder, which recently received planning permission and is scheduled to open in early 2024.
Carlow’s store has been moved to a larger building and will reopen next summer.
“We greatly appreciate our incredibly loyal Irish customers who have supported us over the years,” said Paul Marchant, CEO of Primark. Primark trades like pennies here.
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« Our investment plans demonstrate the confidence and commitment we have in the Penneys in Ireland: we plan to remain in the center of Irish retail for a long time to come. »
600 of the new roles announced today will be at Penneys stores in areas including full-time and part-time retail assistants, trainee managers and department managers.
The remaining 100 new jobs will be located at its global headquarters, Arthur Ryan House, in Dublin city centre.
These jobs will be technology, purchasing, marketing, design, sustainability, store development, finance and human resources.
Penneys already has 5,000 employees in Ireland.
The new 43,000-square-foot store in Tallaght in fall 2022 will bring the total number of Penneys stores here to 37.
Globally, Primark has approximately 399 stores and 70,000 employees.
Marchant said the investment was driven by Benes/Primark’s belief in the brick-and-mortar business.
« We really believe in stores, » he said. « That’s why we are investing in 130 stores all over the world and we feel now is the time for us to invest in Ireland. »
« We have a very loyal customer here. Customers love the Primark and Penney show and we want to continue investing in stores not just here in Dublin but across the country. »
When asked if this means that Penney’s online presence is still off the agenda, he said the focus now is on bricks and mortar because that’s what they believe in and what customers say they want.
Benes has faced criticism for selling so-called « fast fashion » which critics argue has a negative environmental impact.
But Mr Marchant said Primark had recently launched a new sustainability strategy and put a real focus on the agenda.
“We recognize that we are a high-volume retailer and that we can use our scale for good by making the changes we need across the entire supply chain,” he said.
« We are aware of this responsibility and we take it very seriously. »
He said the past 18 months have been very difficult for the retail sector and we don’t know what’s around the corner, but the stores are open and trading.
Although Primark has been hit like many companies by supply chain problems, Marchant said there will be no shortage of supplies in the lead-up to Christmas.
He said the issues were well documented and the company handled them well, but it wasn’t easy.
He added that while the retail staff shortage has been well documented, he is confident Primark has the right staffing levels to serve customers around the world.
The news was welcomed by Mr. Taniste and Minister of Commerce and Enterprise Employment Leo Varadkar, who said it was a really strong vote of confidence in the retail sector.
« It is creating significant job opportunities with 700 new jobs and will also help secure uptake in our towns and cities once we are out of the pandemic, » he said.
He added: « Penney is one of Ireland’s most popular retailers and is also an international success story, having led to significant global expansion over the past few years. »
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