‘Primark in Dubai! #lifeiscomplete,’ wrote one Twitter user, as social networks buzzed over the UK budget-clothing chain’s apparent opening of a United Arab Emirates (UAE) branch. ‘BREAKING NEWS: just found out Primani aka #Primark has opened in Dubai!!!’ tweeted another consumer, using the Armani-rhyme nickname beloved of the Primark’s devoted fans.
But, despite their enthusiasm, the store was not the latest addition to Primark’s 235 stores across the UK and Europe – it was a fake. High-profile luxury brands such as Prada and Louis Vuitton have previously fallen prey to counterfeiters in Dubai, and now Primark is the latest victim of retail-related trademark infringement.
The bogus shop opened on Bank Street in the city’s Bur Dubai district, selling cheap T-shirts and other garments identical to those sold by official Primark outlets, using the company’s label and signage. Primark quickly confirmed they had not opened a store in the UAE, telling Abu Dhabi-based newspaper The National: ‘We are aware that there is a store in Dubai that purports to be part of our group. Primark does not operate any stores there and this is not, therefore, a legitimate Primark store. The company is considering its legal options as a matter of urgency.’
So far, the fake store’s owners have made no comments – but staff admitted to journalists that the clothing ranges they were selling and the outlet’s look were based upon the offerings and appearance of the high-street discount shop. Primark is one of the biggest retailers in Europe, with outlets in the UK, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal and Belgium. In the six months up to 3 March, the brand achieved a 15% sales rise as hard-hit consumers turned to discount fashion stores in the wake of austerity measures imposed by European governments. This has increased the brand’s consumer appeal – something that the fake store’s owners undoubtedly chose to take advantage of.
In August last year, NewLegal Review reported that fake Apple stores had sprung up in Kunming, China, selling genuine goods in a counterfeit environment and infringing on the US corporation’s trademark. One of the Kunming stores agreed to obtain a reseller licence from Apple.
While China has experienced a recent surge in its commercial fortunes, Dubai has wobbled somewhat – requiring bailouts from Abu Dhabi in 2009 and February this year. Perhaps that’s why the enterprising counterfeiters saw an opportunity to cash in on a fake discount fashion store rather than one of the designer brands usually targeted.