Penneys and Primark founder Arthur Ryan passes away

The founder of the much-loved Penneys brand in Ireland and the global Primark brand Arthur Ryan has died aged 83.

Primark confirmed the passing of the chairman and former CEO of the company Arthur Ryan occurred after a short illness.

Ryan founded the first Penneys in Ireland on Mary Street in Dublin in 1969.

“Arthur was a truly gifted retailer and a visionary leader”

The company expanded to the UK in the 1970s and renamed itself Primark.

It grew into a global retail empire with 370 stores spread across 12 countries.

Putting the detail into retail

Interestingly, the company stuck to a bricks-and-mortar strategy rather than embracing e-commerce and the internet.

The death of Ryan comes just as Penneys marks its 50th anniversary.

CEO Paul Marchant described Ryan as a retail pioneer and “a man of remarkable business acumen.

“We are greatly saddened by the passing of our founder and chairman Arthur Ryan,” Marchant said in a statement.

“On behalf of everyone at Primark, we want to extend our deepest sympathies to his wife Alma and his family at this difficult time.”

“Arthur was a truly gifted retailer and a visionary leader. I was fortunate to work closely with him and experience first-hand his sharp mind and innovative thinking.

“Over the years we developed a very strong friendship, which I will always value and cherish. The company’s directors and employees, as well as those that worked with him over the years are deeply saddened by his loss,” Marchant said.

Written by John Kennedy

Published: 9 July 2019

Image credit: chrisdorney/