Fast-growing Irish retailer Penneys has signed a deal to lease retail space in the US from department store chain Sears in its biggest push yet into the American market.

Penneys, which trades as Primark outside Ireland, will set up in seven Sears stores in the northeast of the US over the next 12 to 18 months.

It will lease around 520,000 sq ft of retail space.

Primark is expected to open the first of the new stores at the King of Prussia Mall in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

Another expected location is at the Staten Island Mall in the borough of Staten Island, New York.

Primark’s parent company Associated British Foods announced plans to expand Primark’s presence in the US in April. The firm has already agreed a deal to open a store in Boston at the end next year.

Its total investment in the US is expected to be around £200m (€250m).

Primark currently operates over 270 stores in nine European countries. The first store opened in Dublin in 1969.

At Sears, chief executive and largest investor Edward Lampert is squeezing cash out of the company following nine straight quarters of losses.

“Sears Holdings is strategically transforming one of the largest retail real estate portfolios in the United States over time while continuing to operate its existing stores in large, but rationalized selling space,” a Sears spokesman said after the Primark deal was announced.

Irish Independent