Penneys founder Arthur Ryan, 1936-2019

Arthur Ryan, founder and former CEO of Penneys, has passed away aged 83
Arthur Ryan, founder and former CEO of Penneys, has passed away aged 83

Penneys has confirmed in a statement that Arthur Ryan, the company's founder, chairman and former CEO has passsed away at the age of 83.



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9 July 2019 | 0

Penneys has issued a statement following the death of Arthur Ryan, who founded the clothing and household retailer and its parent company, Primark. Paul Marchant, CEO of Primark, said all at the company are saddened by Ryan’s passing.

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

Ryan opened the first Penneys shop 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 Penneys “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 Associated British Food‘s operating profits. In 2009, Ryan gave up his day-to-day control of the firm as chief executive, retaining the chairmanship.

“Arthur Ryan was a retail pioneer and a man of remarkable business acumen,” Paul Marchant continued. “At Primark, we feel very fortunate to have experienced up close his drive and passion for the business as well as his integrity, warmth and wonderful sense of humour. He was very generous in so many ways. He devoted a lot of his time to advise and connect people and he quietly supported people in the background in times of need.”



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