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Eoghan Connolly. Commercial Planning & Control Manager.

The reason I wanted to join Primark was because it was a growing brand and there was huge recruitment and investment going on. Previously, the business had focused on growing the number of stores, and now it was investing in people coming into the Head Office functions to ensure that all those stores had the support they needed.

Since joining, we've grown from around 270 stores to 340 and our IT department has seen a huge amount of investment in systems and people.

Being structured

I manage the cost of running our IT operations for both Head Office functions and the stores in a number of different countries. We’re running about 80 or 90 projects a year – for example, looking at new Head Office services or new functionalities for the stores. My role is to determine how we plan for this in a structured way.

For every project, I need to determine how we get value for money and make sure everything’s in place. For example, we might plan to open 40 new stores in the coming year, so I’ll look at how much it’s going to cost for all the systems, and make sure we have the right suppliers in place with relevant contracts.

This means I work closely with lots of different functions, from Operations and Project Management, to Finance and Legal, to ensure all the controls are in place.

Eoghan at work

Constant change

I manage a rolling five-year plan to forecast what future business needs will look like – how many suppliers we’ll need, how much it will cost and how we can best support growth. We’re constantly reviewing our plans because the business is always changing, which is something I hadn’t experienced before. So, even when you have an agreed plan in place, you may need to react quickly to changing circumstances and alter it.

It’s good to work somewhere that’s so nimble and agile. You have to accept that the plan might have been right last week, but now things have changed and it isn’t right any more. This is just the way Primark does things – when you realise something isn’t working, you try something different. And the focus is always on protecting the customer experience, so if you see a different approach that could help the customer, you get the support to do it.

You think you’re busy in Head Office, but it’s nothing compared to a Primark store in the run-up to Christmas!

Understanding the business

We’re encouraged to go out into the stores so we can appreciate the challenges they face all the time. There are lots of different functionalities that each store needs and we have to understand all those needs – from cutting customer queues, to how the tills perform, and introducing new technologies like contactless payments. We also need to think about what suppliers we might need, the legal requirements in the different countries and the range of currencies.

One of the biggest experiences for me was working in one of our stores for a day over the Christmas period. You think you’re busy in Head Office, but it’s nothing compared to a Primark store in the run-up to Christmas! It was really useful to experience the challenges that staff and customers face every day. It helped me to see how our IT systems affect the way the stores function, and emphasised how much the customer experience is the top priority across the business.

Other reasons to join

Your experience at Primark is about so much more than your job. It’s also about our people and our culture. Our beliefs as a business and our aims for the future. It’s about all the exciting, empowering, amazing things that make us who we are – and you who you are.

I was working in Australia as a Project Manager and when I moved back to Ireland, I was looking for something similar.

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