Lefties: has Primark got a rival in Inditex's value fashion brand?
Zara owner Inditex has begun selling its value fashion brand, Lefties, online in both Spain, Portugal. News that will no doubt be closely watched by Primark.
Lefties offers trend-led fashion at budget prices for men, women and children, along with accessories, footwear and homeward and sits firmly in the Primark price point.
There is no word yet from Inditex as to whether it plans to extend online shipping to the UK, but if if did, it would likely have a hit on its hands, particularly as consumers will become ever more cash-strapped in the coming months and years as the nation feels the after-effects of the coronavirus crisis.
Under a category on the Lefties site called "Wow! Prices" women can buy printed wrap-over dresses for €9.99 and t-shirt dresses, with this season's key exaggerated padded shoulder detail, for the same price. A padded shoulder t-shirt sells for €6.99 with a similar style on Zara's site priced at £12.99 (approx €11.99).
It is also making a strong play for the basics and athleisure markets, with twin packs of t-shirts at €7.99 and a four-pack of strappy crop tops at €9.99. Basic sneakers start at €11.99 with more performance-style versions offered at €25.99.
Like Zara, Lefties is bang on trend and offers cut-price versions of in-demand designer styles with Bottega Veneta inspired braided mule-style sandals in polyurethane selling for €22.99.
Childrenswear is an even more compelling proposition price-wise, with a three-pack of t-shirts for €5.99 and a six-pack of leggings for €14.99.
At the moment the brand only ships to Spain and Portugal from its e-commerce site (which looks and feels very similar to the Zara site with high quality imagery and editorial), but it does have 100 stores in Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Its store on Madrid's Gran Vía is situated next to a branch of Primark, which is the UK and Ireland's most dominant and successful value fashion brand with a growing global ambition.
Primark operates around 190 stores in the UK and is famous for resisting e-commerce (its website is for browsing only). Even in the face of the COVID-19 crisis which forced the closure of it stores, leaving it with no sales channel at all and a mounting stockpile, it refused to budge.
Management has thus far remained resolute that it will remain a physical-retail-only proposition and following lockdown it has been one of the more successful retailers with queues outside many of its stores, proving its popularity and how much it was missed by consumers when they couldn't access the brand.
Rushing online because of the COVID-19 blip (albeit a pretty monumental blip which left it with a stockpile worth £1.5bn) would therefore seem unnecessary, if customers are prepared to rush to its stores instead.
In any case it has long since argued that the economics of selling at the prices that it does, makes online (and the inevitable returns it generates) unattractive. It has a point, with vest tops selling for £1.80, Primark would have to charge more for delivery than the product itself to make a decent profit.
Inditex however already has world-class global distribution expertise and technologies, and can make the numbers work (Lefties charges €3.99 for delivery). Were it to bring Lefties to the UK, Primark might be forced to change its position as fashion's last remaining e-commerce refusenik.