Primark: Company Profile

High street clothes retailer Primark, which is owned by Associated British Foods, is always in and out of the news. Every year we hear stories of abuse at supplier factories, usually on the Indian sub continent.

Discover more about the company's ethics below.

Last updated: July 2016

Annual Revenue$1.7 billion a year


Other BrandsPrimark is owned by Associated British Foods


Company Score3 out of 20




Ethical Consumer Best Buy?No


Ethical issues by category

In our ranking system Primark's supply chain management receives top marks. For instance the company has a good supply chain policy which even contains a commitment to paying workers a living wage. It is also a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) and has made attempts at tackling a number of difficult issues in its supply chain including homeworking.

However the company scores a worst Ethical Consumer rating for its cotton supply chain policy. Primark has signed up to the Responsible Sourcing Network’s Cotton Pledge. In doing so it has committed to not knowingly source Uzbek cotton for the manufacturing of any of its products. However, it did not seem to have any policy in place to make sure it wasn't sourcing cotton from there.

According to the Environmental Justice Foundation Uzbekistan was the third largest exporter of cotton in the world, and Europe was its major buyer. The group stated that forced child labour and human rights violations were “rife” in Uzbek cotton production. 

When Ethical Consumer rated the Primark environmental report in 2015 it sorced a worst rating. Although the company had a recent environment policy and showed reasonable understanding of its key environmental impacts, Primark did not provide company-wide dated and quantified environmental targets and the report was not independently verified.

Despite selling own brand cosmetics Primark has no animal testing policy.

The company says: "Primark is against animal testing.  Primark and our own label manufacturers do not commission animal testing on any Primark own brand products or ingredients.  Our own brand cosmetics and toiletry product range have not been tested on animals by us, or by our own brand manufacturers."

However, in the absence of a fixed cut-off date for the testing of ingredients, the company receives Ethical Consumer's worst rating in this category.

In August 2015 Ethical Consumer viewed the family tree for Associated British Foods (Primark's parent company) on the corporate website The site listed many high risk subsidiaries based in jurisdictions considered by Ethical Consumer to be tax havens at the time of writing. They included:

  • a holding co in Singapore (AB MAURI INVESTMENTS (ASIA) PTE. LTD),
  • a holding company in Hong Kong (Associated British Foods Asia Pacific Holdings Limited),
  • a holding company in Luxembourg (Abf European Holdings & Co) and
  • a holding company in Delaware (SPI HOLDING COMPANY). 

The company therefore received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for likely use of tax avoidance strategies.

In-Depth Information

See the Primark company page for detailed company information, background stories behind the ratings direct from our Corporate Critic database, and 'email the company' tool.

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