UK's online clothing market may have reached maturity -AB Foods finance chief

Customers walks with shopping bags, as retail store Primark in Birmingham, Britain reopens its doors after a third lockdown imposed in early January due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, April 12, 2021. REUTERS/Carl Recine/File Photo

LONDON, Jan 24 (Reuters) - The maturity of Britain's online clothing market should be questioned after its share retreated in the Christmas trading period, the finance chief of Primark's owner said on Tuesday.

"You've got to start to question the maturity now of online in the United Kingdom," John Bason, finance director of Associated British Foods (ABF.L), told Reuters, highlighting a fall in online clothing's share of the market.

Primark does not trade online but is trialing a Click & Collect offer of children's products.

After two years of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, a feature of Christmas 2022 was a return of shoppers to physical stores.

"The way that Christmas has played out, the relevance of Primark is absolutely there ... The numbers say it for us," said Bason, noting Primark's UK sales growth of 15% in the Christmas quarter compared to growth of 5% in the wider market.

He said Primark's proposition of affordable prices and a store experience was proving increasingly appealing to both existing and new customers.

Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Paul Sandle

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