BOSTON (AP) — Irish clothing retailer Primark is opening its first U.S. location Thursday in an historic building that once housed one of Boston’s most venerable department stores.
The Dublin-based company is the latest tenant to occupy part of the former Filene’s Department Store and its discount sister store, Filene’s Basement.
Primark is marking the occasion with a ceremonial ribbon cutting Thursday morning at the roughly 77,000 square foot space, which covers most of four floors of the Burnham Building in the city’s Downtown Crossing shopping district.
Mayor Marty Walsh and company executives are expected to attend.
Primark has over 250 locations across Ireland, where its stores still go by their original name Penneys, and the UK and Europe, where it’s called Primark.
The stores are along the vein of disposable fashion retailers like Sweden’s H&M and Britain’s Topshop that focus on trendy, low-priced apparel.
The company started in 1969 and today is a subsidiary of Associated British Foods, the London-based food maker whose signature brands include Ovaltine and Twinings.
A Primark spokesman said earlier this week that the company chose Boston because of its high concentration of students and its roots as a center for Irish immigration.
Primark plans to eventually open two more stores in the Boston area, as well as five others in the northeast: Danbury, Connecticut; Freehold, New Jersey; King of Prussia, Pennsylvania; Willow Grove, Pennsylvania; and on New York’s Staten Island.
The Boston location, which will employ about 600 workers, shares the ground level with local specialty grocer Roche Bros.
Two other companies, Havas Media and Arnold Worldwide, take up the remaining floors in the eight-story building, which, in recent years, had become a symbol of the city’s struggles during the recession.
When the original Filene’s Basement store closed in 2007, the site was slated for redevelopment.
But the recession hit the following year, stalling the project and leaving a gaping hole and a historic facade standing sentry along the city’s once vibrant shopping and commercial corridor.
Years of concern and debate over the future of the site ensued before the project was revived and eventually completed.
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