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Primark - Carbon management & strategy

Carbon Trust advice helped fashion retailer Primark develop a pilot store to deliver carbon savings of almost 50%


After its energy spend reached £12 million in 2008, rapidly expanding fashion retailer, Primark, decided to explore the potential to cut its energy costs and appeal to environmentally conscious shoppers. After joining our Carbon Management scheme and receiving building design advice, the company has developed a pilot store which is set to deliver carbon savings of almost 50% over its current new build design.

The business case

Founded in Dublin in 1969, today Primark has 198 stores in operation, of which 139 are in the UK.

Primark's baseline energy spend in 2008 was £12 million; a figure that was set to rise as its estate continued to expand rapidly. As a result, the company wanted to reduce its energy consumption and cut its bills. At the same time it was keen to improve its green credentials and demonstrate to customers that it was delivering carbon emissions savings.

With this in mind, Primark approached the Carbon Trust in 2008 for advice on developing a new approach to energy consumption.

It didn’t even cross my mind to work with anybody other than the Carbon Trust. We wanted to work with someone who would show us what was possible, rather than focusing on the cost.

Peter Franks, Director of Store Development and Facilities Management, Primark

Piloting change

In addition to our Carbon Management service, we provided Primark with building design advice in order to explore how close to carbon neutrality in could bring its new flagship store in East Ham.

The initial ambition was to deliver a carbon neutral store, and Primark grasped the opportunity to treat its East Ham development as a pilot project, implementing as many carbon saving strategies as possible as a trial site for future premises. However, the renewable energy technologies needed to make the store carbon neutral did not deliver a payback within Primark's investment policies. But the final store is still expected to deliver a 48% carbon saving compared to previous stores.

Taking it forward

Further ideas have been embraced. Recycled aluminium has been successfully used as wall protection, doors and wood panels are made of sustainable timber and linoleum has replaced plastic laminate on the work surfaces. Rainwater harvesting, percussion taps and cycle-to-work schemes have also been successfully introduced.

"Once the store is open we will see the true results, but the expected nearly 50% savings on our current new build design are very exciting. We aim to implement the successful measures elsewhere once we can see them in action," says Peter. "The store manager is very enthusiastic, and looking forward to publicising the store's sustainability to customers."

Primark has now embarked on a Carbon Strategy project with us, which will help the company gain a deeper understanding of the risks and opportunities of climate change and the low carbon economy, and develop a long-term vision, targets and road map to manage its business towards a sustainable, low carbon future.

Download Primark case study (PDF)

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