Primark founder and chairman Arthur Ryan passed away last week after a brief illness.
Mr Ryan established Primark as Penneys in 1969 in his home city of Dublin. After fifty years of business, Primark has grown to over 350 stores across Europe and the USA.
Arthur Ryan ran Primark as CEO for forty years before stepping back to become chairman ten years ago. The chain has proved resilient despite economic challenges, though it has faced criticism over staff pay, supply chains and environmental impact.
Dr Gordon Fletcher of University of Salford Business School reflected on Arthur Ryan’s legacy:
“The death of Arthur Ryan last week is another key marker for the irrevocable change in the traditional high street retail. As a very private individual – his obituaries do not even agree on his place of birth – there is a very real contrast between Arthur Ryan and the more flamboyant, media hungry or just loud retailers that have followed him with similar retail success.
“Arthur Ryan’s key contribution to retail is as the founder of Primark and it is an important milestone for retail in the UK and in Ireland (under the Penneys brand). The stores maintain a very clear purpose and address a particular customer base.
“By keeping pace with the fast-moving trends in the fashion industry while delivering clothes at a low price point Primark has remained relevant when other retailers have faltered or even failed. The evidence of this success can be seen directly with a global network of 350 branches and continuing expansion into Europe and elsewhere. This is in noticeable contrast to the avalanche of recent announcements in the sector about closures and restructuring.
“Arthur Ryan’s legacy is not just a clothing chain with an annual turnover of over £7bn but solid confirmation of the adage in business that if you have one good idea just stick to it and it will succeed.”