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Penneys Founder Arthur Ryan Passes Away

By Donna Ahern
Penneys Founder Arthur Ryan Passes Away

Arthur Ryan, the founder, Chairman and former CEO, of Penneys has passed away today after a short illness.

Ryan was 83 years old.

Ryan, who has been credited as the driving force behind the ‘fast fashion’ movement, cut his teeth at Dunnes Stores, working as a personal assistant to company founder Ben Dunne.

Paul Marchant, CEO, Primark issued the following statement: “We are greatly saddened by the passing of our founder and Chairman Arthur Ryan. 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 referred to Ryan as a retail pioneer and "a man of remarkable business acumen".

He added that, “His words remain guiding principles at Primark today."

"Arthur Ryan’s legacy will continue to live on in the business that he founded and built. He will be hugely missed by his Primark family.” He concluded.

Associated British Foods


Ryan stepped down from the role of chief executive of Primark in 2009, taking on the role of chairman – as the CEO of Associated British Foods.

“Arthur Ryan will be remembered as one of the great giants of retailing," George Weston, CEO of Associated British Foods said in a statement.

"When my Grandfather, Garfield Weston and Uncle, Galen Weston recruited Arthur to run Penneys in 1969 with only one store in Dublin, they knew they were hiring an exceptional trader.

"But what three generations of Westons learnt over the following decades was that Arthur was also a great leader and business builder, driven every day by a relentless desire to delight his customers."

'World-class Retailer'


Weston noted that Ryan made "fashion accessible to all and his legacy looms large".

"He built a phenomenal world-class retailer, the foundations of which will always belong to Ireland.” He added.

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