Primark founder and Chairman dies at 83.
Arthur St. John Ryan was an Irish businessman who was the founder, chairman, and chief executive of Primark.
He was born in Cork Ireland to an insurance clerk in 1935, and went to the Synge Street CBS in Dublin after moving to the city with his family. He later emigrated to London and entered the genteel world of gentlemen’s tailoring as a tie buyer at Swan & Edgar. He also worked for London fashion wholesaler Carr & McDonald. From there, he returned to Dublin to work at Dunnes Stores.
The company Primark which also trades under the name of Penneys in the Republic of Ireland. The fashion basics chain was founded in Dublin and now operates 370 stores in 12 countries.
First Penneys shop was opened on Mary Street in Dublin in 1962. Subsequently, in 1974, he took the model to Britain – renaming the stores Primark to avoid legal problems with US chain JC Penney.
The major turnaround came in 2005, when Primark acquired a huge portfolio of Littlewoods stores. Meanwhile, close attention to catwalk trends made it chic as well as cheap. It went from being the “shop that nobody admitted going to” to a Mecca for celebrity shoppers. It now accounts for over a third of ABF’s operating profits. In 2009, Ryan gave up his day-to-day control of the firm as chief executive but became chairman instead.
Despite having no online presence, the Primark fashion concept- affordablility remains one of the most popular brands in Europe, serving larger percentage of the population. The affordable fashion brand has weathered the high street downturn, surviving numerous economic recessions
Ryan was married to the former entertainer Alma Carroll and they had a daughter, Jess Ryan. He had Ryan four additional children from a previous marriage.
He was an intensely private man, living in one of Dublin’s best-protected houses, he never gave interviews.
Primark chief executive Paul Marchant said the 83-year-old was a “true retail pioneer.”