UPDATE 1-Primark names Iberia head to lead push into United States

Tue May 20, 2014 8:04am EDT

(Adds details on U.S. store openings)

MADRID May 20 (Reuters) - Primark, Associated British Foods' fast-growing clothing chain, appointed the head of its Spain and Portugal division to lead the retailer's push into the United States, where it aims to open its first store by the end of next year.

Jose Luis Martinez de Larramendi will take on the new role in 2015, human resources and business development director Breege O'Donoghue, said on Tuesday.

Martinez has helped the group expand to 39 stores in eight years in Spain, capturing shoppers trading down in the home country of Zara owner Inditex where more than a quarter of the labour force is jobless.

AB Foods said in April it would launch Primark's first U.S. store in Boston, Massachusetts, towards the end of next year.

O'Donoghue said the retailer wanted to open four stores in the country before Christmas 2015 and several others in the following months.

"We're hoping in the first year to open nine stores in the north east corridor," she told Reuters at the opening of the brand's largest store to date in Spain.

Primark's low prices have made it a hit with cost-conscious shoppers in western Europe, where it operates in nine countries, through just over 270 stores.

Stephen Mullen, currently commercial manager for Iberia, will take over the Spain and Portugal operations. (Reporting by Sarah Morris, Writing by Sarah White; Editing by Erica Billingham)