King began her career with Penneys only four short years ago and the ambitious 26-year-old has now progressed to become one of the company’s youngest store managers. What makes her story all the more remarkable is that she manages the Primark store in Weiterstadt, Germany - despite not having a word of German until she moved there two and a half years ago.
The Renmore woman was first employed with Penneys (which is known as Primark outside of Ireland ) as a weekend manager in Eyre Square in October 2011. She quickly worked her way up the ranks and was promoted numerous times. “I soon learnt that the best way to progress with Penneys, and ultimately become a leader, was to take advantage of the high level of experience the staff and management have from years spent working there and learn as much as I could from them. After four months, I applied for the position of trainee manager and was successful in my application. A year later, I found myself being promoted again, this time to accessories department manager.’’
Although not actually able to speak German, Chloe moved to a Primark store in Germany in May 2013 and the language barrier has certainly not curbed her success, as it wasn’t long before she was promoted to senior department manager. “I don’t think my bosses worried too much about my lack of German as I am a hard worker and I guess they trusted that I would work just as hard at learning the language as I do at my job. I started my first day without a word of German and had to rely completely on body language for the first six months or longer. I am a bit of a perfectionist so I hesitated to speak any German initially for fear of making a mistake. Primark organised German lessons for me twice a week and they really helped, once I was comfortable that I had got to grips with the language, I just started speaking in German one day and everyone was quite surprised. I now speak with all of my staff, managers and supervisors in German every day. Languages were never my strong point in school but as long as you’re willing to try and work hard at it and most importantly, don’t take it too seriously, it really isn’t the barrier you might think it is.”
Wanting to make the most of her time in Germany, Chloe applied for positions to support the opening of various new stores across the country. She was involving in opening the flagship store Berlin Alexanderplatz and was delighted that Taoiseach Enda Kenny travelled over to open the store. “I felt a real sense of pride being part of the Irish success story that is Primark. Along with our flagship store in Berlin, I also supported Primark openings in Stuttgart and Dresden. Earlier this year I was offered the position as store manager in in Weiterstadt, which is Primark’s 293th store and 19th in Germany.’’
However, as is inevitable, with success comes some sacrifices. Chloe says becoming accustomed to the German culture has probably been her most difficult challenge to date, even more so than the language barrier. “I miss my friends and family, I love Galway, and my social life has taken more of a back seat than I would like! However working with Primark has been the perfect fit for me so despite these hurdles, the benefits have made it all worthwhile. I am challenged in so many different ways in my work every day, dealing with people and culture, dealing with commercial stuff and also using my creative side, working with merchandising and trends. It is a high paced working environment and I think I would find it close to impossible to work somewhere else at a slower pace.”
So what is next for this determined young woman? She was chosen to support the new Primark store opening in the US but turned it down due to her commitments in Germany. But she doesn’t rule out a move to America in future. “I would love to work in the States again, the energy and positivity there is so amazing, but for the moment I am content in Germany. My progression to store manager is the biggest step of my career to date, so I am happy to stay here and focus on my team and our customers for the next few years.’’