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Is Primark ethical and sustainable as a fashion brand?

Primark is an Ireland-based multinational fashion brand owned by the parent company, Associated British Foods Plc / Wittington Investments. The Good Shopping Guide gives the brand a low Ethical Rating. Unfortunately, this brand receives a low Good Shopping Guide Ethical Score in our Ethical Fashion Retailers Ratings Table and has not yet met our minimum Ethical Benchmark. This brand has several areas to improve upon before it would likely qualify for our Ethical Accreditation.

In what areas does Primark perform poorly?

Primark is often used as an example of how fast fashion can have an adverse effect on Human Rights. With numerous criticisms lodged against the brand, Primark gets a very low score from us for its poor supply chain traceability, and standard of care for vulnerable workers.

One example of an incident that has contributed to Primark’s low score is a recent report by the Clean Clothes Campaign. In the supply chains of H&M, Nike, and Primark, rampant pay fraud was discovered during the pandemic in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Indonesia. These are just three of the many companies that purportedly made significant profits over the past year while also making business moves that furthered the precariousness of their already low-paid employees. In addition to the financial repercussions, order uncertainty and brand-driven price reductions have made garment employees’ working conditions worse. There have been complaints of higher production objectives, dangerous working conditions, and management harassment.

Another controversy is Primark’s continued involvement with Myanmar. Despite the ongoing political unrest and abuses of labour and human rights in Myanmar, clothing companies Bestseller, H&M, and Primark continue to place new orders with suppliers there. (Though, prior to the coup in February 2021, the corporations temporarily halted orders from Myanmar.)

In another horrific report, workers at the GY Sen plant in Myanmar claim that managers confined up to 1,000 employees inside the building for hours in an effort to stop them from missing work or taking part in the pro-democracy demonstrations that took place in Yangon on February 18, 2021. Workers claim that 20 employees were later fired for skipping shifts to participate in the anti-coup demonstrations. Workers claim that, even before the coup, they were frequently threatened with termination if they refused to work more shifts and were pressured to complete unreasonable workloads. Public sources claim that Primark purchases goods from the GY Sen facility.

In what areas does Primark perform well for its sustainability and ethics?

Primark’s Environmental Report is a good example of the kind of report that should be published by a company of this size. The report includes ​​goals and good evidence of progress so far with these targets. Some highlights of these achievements include, “55% of energy… used came from renewables” and “84% of waste… was sent for recycling, recovery or other beneficial use.” 

Primark also publishes a sufficient Code of Conduct, and are members of the Ethical Trade Initiative; both of these business practices support companies in their efforts to be more ethical and allow both consumers and investors to hold brands to account.

How can the Primark brand improve its Ethical Rating? 

The Good Shopping Guide’s score results from 15 ethical criteria in relation to Primark. To reach our Ethical Benchmark and qualify for our Ethical Accreditation, Primark has several issues to deal with, including its very poor standard of welfare for its workers.

If your fashion brand values ethics and sustainability, why not check out The Good Shopping Guide’s Ethical Accreditation? Increase customer and investor confidence and stand out from the greenwash.


Ethical performance in category


GSG score


GSG category benchmark


Ethical Rating


  • Environmental Report


  • Organic


  • Nuclear Power


  • Better Cotton Initiative


  • Fossil Fuels



  • Animal Welfare



  • Armaments


  • Code of Conduct


  • Political Donations


  • Ethical Trading Schemes


  • Human Rights


  • Human Rights+



  • Ethical Accreditation


  • Other Criticisms


= GSG Top Rating = GSG Middle Rating = GSG Bottom Rating