Another European brand has crossed the Atlantic to help satiate the American appetite for cheap clothes

Singer Tinashe attends the Primark U.S. Grand Opening Store Celebration at Primark Downtown Crossing on September 9, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.

#AceSalesNews – Sept.10: Primark, the Irish fast-fashion retailer known for mind-bogglingly cheap clothes—cheaper than even H&M—has come to the United States. Its 77,000-square-foot shop in Boston’s Downtown Crossing is the first of eight locations planned for the country this year, including one in New York.

Its arrival seems long overdue for a brand that outranks Gap (paywall) in global market share and trails just behind Uniqlo, which has been spreading across the US steadily for some years now.

Primark has at least one major hurdle to clear: it’s entering a crowded market in which it has virtually no brand recognition. But it also has some factors working in its favor—namely America’s seemingly insatiable desire for cheap clothing from stores abundant with it. In 2013, the average American spent $1,141 to buy 64 garments and more than seven pairs of shoes, more than any other country in the world.

Primark, if anything, is definitely cheap. A comparison of prices at Primark and its fast-fashion rivals last year by the Wall Street Journal pegged Primark as the least expensive of the bunch. A pair of jeans at Zara cost $42. A similar pair at H&M was just $13. The price tag at Primark: $10.

Clothes by PrimarkOn the Primark site, these cost £20, £19, and just £2, respectively.

While Primark has been around since 1969, it’s only in the last decade or so that it’s become a major force in fast-fashion. Its parent company is the unlikely Associated British Foods, which describes itself as “a diversified international food, ingredients and retail group.” Much of its revenue comes wholesale businesses, like the yeast and dough conditioners it sells to bakeries and the cane sugar mills it runs in China.

But the company has proven a skilled retailer, as well. Primark now has more than 270 stores across Europe. Much like H&M and Zara, which have done well in the US, it’s adept at identifying commercial hits from the runways and getting them on racks before even the originator can, earning it the nickname Primarni. (Supposedly it’s a mash-up of “Primark” and “Armani,” but if it’s supposed to indicate that Primark is on-trend, it probably makes more sense as a mix of Primark and “Marni,” the playful Italian luxury label.)

Of course, being cheap and trendy isn’t always enough. Even the well-established American retailer Forever 21 may have to scale back its giant stores, and take out a loan, as its growth stalls.

In Britain, Primark is something of a cultural touchstone, and not necessarily in a good way. It’s basically shorthand for cheap clothes of exceedingly low quality.

But Primark doesn’t have that baggage across the Atlantic. There, it’s relatively unknown—though that’s about to change.

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iPad Pro and Apple Pencil hands-on: Microsoft Surface fans will be choking on their cornflakes

iPad Pro hands-on

#AceSalesNews – Sept.10: The iPad has got bigger. Apple boasted about how the new iPad Pro (12.9in diagonally) has 5.6 million pixels and more graphics processing power than 80% of the laptops shipped in the past year.

It has also added two accessories that will have Microsoft Surface fans choking on their cornflakes: a one-piece cover-keyboard that attaches magnetically and a pressure-sensitive stylus. Both are optional and each will appeal to particular segments. Although there are already plenty of third-party keyboards for existing iPads, Apple will have the Pro keyboard segment to itself for a while.

The iPad Pro, besides being big, is heavy. The 9.7in iPad Air 2 from 2014 weighs 0.96lb (437g); the Pro’s weight is not even mentioned on the “tech specs” page, as it’s virtually the same as the 1.5lb (680g) of the original iPad of 2010, even though that had a smaller screen. Still, it’s less than the 2.4lb (1.08kg) of a new 12in Macbook, though adding the keyboard/case might make it a close-run thing.

iPad Air 2 vs iPad Pro: Key differences

iPad Pro software keyboard shortcuts

The screen size difference does not leap out at you when you see it in the flesh; it looks more like a very lovely screen somehow detached from a notebook. Add the keyboard and it looks very much like a Surface, though the 4:3 screen ratio means it works better in both portrait and landscape than the latest Surface’s 3:2 ratio (which becomes too narrow in portrait mode). Rather than a kickstand, the Pro’s case folds underneath it to hold the device.

Apple is not making a PC-alike, though. The Pro is still an iPad – all the same apps, the same interface –though iOS 9 brings the ability (as on the Surface) to run two apps side-by-side on a split screen. The two products still start from philosophically different places: the Surface is a PC made more mobile, while the iPad Pro is a tablet given more desktop-like capability.

The keyboard is comfortable; it is very like the new MacBook, which has very short travel on the keys. I could type very accurately at once but others might find it uncomfortable compared to the keys of a normal notebook.

iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil: Pencilled in

The Apple Pencil is a stylus – which, while Steve Jobs might have dismissed them for a 3.5in screen back in 2007, becomes useful on a 12.9in one. You can rest your palm on the screen and draw, and the stylus is receptive to motion; it can detect both pressure and motion (though the iPad Pro does not have the new iPhone’s 3D Touch, and thus nor do its apps). There’s even a virtual ruler but unlike a real one, you cannot press against it to draw a straight line, which turns out to be surprisingly difficult.

iPad Pro with Apple Pencil

Illustrators are most likely to find the Pencil useful, though the keynote also included a demonstration by a doctor of a 3D body imaging system. In general, it is a niche, though you can also imagine business uses requiring signatures and marks where a stylus would be useful.

However, the iPad Pro is not a cheap option (prices start at $799 (£520) in the US and we are still waiting for UK news), especially allied to those accessories. It does have a wonderful screen and iOS 9’s split screen capability – which it has in common only with the iPad Air 2 and the new iPad mini 4 – is very useful; on such a big screen, it is almost essential.

iPad Pro

In the end, the iPad Pro is unlikely to drive an abrupt resurgence in tablet sales, which are wilting because the devices just do not wear out, and do not need replacement. The Pro could well fill some niches and attract some large business users who need touch-sensitive apps. But most consumers will find the smaller iPads fit the bill just fine.

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PAKISTAN: ‘ Google-supported Tech Mela to kick off in Pakistan tomorrow ‘


#AceSalesNews – Sept.10: Google has announced its support for the largest online shopping festival in Pakistan, dubbed ‘Tech Mela’, the online shopping event will be the first of its kind in the country’s emerging e-commerce market.

Tech Mela is slated to run for a duration of 10 days, starting on September 11 and will end on September 20.

“Pakistan’s mobile industry is really taking off with more and more people coming online and using their smartphones as their primary Internet device,” said Tania Aidrus, Country Manager South Asia Frontier at Google.

“It is absolutely the right time to hold this virtual shopping festival just before the traditional holiday and festive period of Eidul Azha and what better way than to hold it completely online where the next wave of buyers will be congregating,” added Tania.

With Internet penetration growing rapidly and the desire to purchase on the Internet increasing, we hope this initiative will bring more awareness and adoption of e-commerce in Pakistan, stated Google’s country manager.

According to TNS Research, there are 30 million online users in Pakistan, half of whom are using mobile phones for the purpose. Google is teaming up with e-commerce partner and development partner Activ8 to hold the online shopping festival.

“The majority of digital consumers in Pakistan are already researching online to decide which device to purchase, and for the most part they find online resources more relevant and credible to their purchase journey,” stated Tania.

According to Google’s top executive in the country, the Tech Mela is an initiative to complete the research and purchase loop, and to spur greater acceptance of e-commerce among even more Pakistanis.

Tech Mela will focus on exclusives, special deals and attractive discounts on smartphones, gadgets, data and voice plans that will only be available online during the duration of this event.

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