Experts divided on effectiveness of web-only strategy

'Web did not work... Primark needed to show a human face taking responsibility for the problem'.

Primark's refusal to be interviewed by the BBC made the retailer look 'arrogant and cynical', according to one retail PR specialist.

Alasdair McWhirter, creative director at The Ideas Network, said that by not fielding a spokesperson on this week's Panorama, 'Primark looked like it did not credit its customers with any intelligence'. He argued that Primark's strategy of turning to the web did not work because the retailer needed to show a human face taking responsibility for the problem.

'It needs to be a responsible organisation in the real world, not just in its own boardroom,' he said.

McWhirter added that Primark should have taken the opportunity to explain to customers how difficult the problem is to regulate. 'I don't think many customers will honestly believe it didn't have a clue.'

But Zaria Pinchbeck, MD of retail specialist ZPR, defended Primark's decision. 'It chose not to engage with the BBC and the media to help put across its response more effectively,' she said.

Pinchbeck added that retailers should do more to reassure customers their ethical trading positions were robust. 'Customers will be asking more questions and the media will continue to focus on ethical trading issues,' she warned.

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