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Published
Jul 9, 2019
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Primark founder Arthur Ryan dies

Published
Jul 9, 2019

Arthur Ryan, the Irish businessman who founded low-cost global apparel retail giant Primark, passed away at the age of 83 on Monday, following a short illness. 


Arthur Ryan, founder of Primark - Associated British Foods


Founded in Dublin under the name of Penneys in 1969, Primark has since developed into a retail empire consisting of more than 350 stores employing over 75,000 people in 12 countries, spread over both Europe and North America.

After 40 years leading the retail chain, Ryan stepped down from his role as CEO in 2009 but remained deeply involved in the company in his new position as chairman. 

The Dublin-born businessman had gained retail experience in both his hometown and London, before being hired by the Weston family, owners of Associated British Foods, to launch a discount clothing retailer – a project that would result in the foundation of Penneys. 

Speaking to the BBC, Primark's current CEO Paul Marchant described Ryan as "a true real retail pioneer," who "innovated and was never complacent, despite many successes. He challenged us all to be the best we can be."

Still owned by Associated British Foods plc, Primark continues to operate under its original name of Penneys in its native Ireland and recently expanded to Slovenia, its 12th market. 

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