In the News... Primark

Bring us up to speed

Primark is under fire after a BBC Panorama investigation alleged the company had been using suppliers that made clothes through child labour. Primark reacted quickly by conducting its own investigation and immediately axing three of its south Indian suppliers. But protesters still gathered at its flagship stores.

The media reaction?

Primark, owned by Associated British Foods, has become something of a sacred cow of the high street - and the media love to make mincemeat. Despite its early press release reports, the company was under attack and articles looking at its overall record hit the business pages and the front pages of the nationals.

Who are the PR players?

Primark famously eschews PR, one of the few high-street brands to do so. Its parent company's head of external relations Geoff Lancaster keeps a 'softly softly' approach, and the firm's positive trading has kept the media largely on side. But with the possibility of being caught in a media maelstrom, Associated British Foods' City agency Citigate found that it was called upon to work a bit of overtime and prepare the Primark statement.

Anything to learn?

Even companies whose figures are robust can still come under fire. Primark's lack of focus on CSR - it doesn't do much media-facing work to highlight any progress in that area - gave it little ammunition to say 'we're not usually associated with this sort of thing; in fact, quite the opposite'. The value of corporate CSR has never been more starkly shown.

4.2m - Number of people who viewed Panorama.

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