Arthur Ryan, the founder, chairman, and former chief executive of Primark has passed away at the age of 83 after a short illness.
Late Ryan was born in Dublin but went to London as a young man to work in tailoring. On his return to Ireland he continued to work in retail before he was taken on by a man called Garfield Weston, who tasked him with setting up a discount clothing chain.
He opened his first shop ‘Penneys’ in Dublin’s Mary Street in 1962. Twelve years later he exported the concept to Britain, where he changed the name to Primark to avoid a legal battle with US JC Penney.
In his lifetime, Ryan was often described as a ‘workaholic’, completely committed to his work and never seeking fame or celebrity. Ryan was an intensely private man and was barely known among socialites, never granting press interviews and residing in one of Dublin’s most secure houses.
He had a huge fear of kidnap after two colleagues were snatched by the IRA during the Troubles in the 1980s.