Tuesday 25 October 2016

Primark's Irish finance boss leaves retail giant to return to United States

Published 07/04/2016 | 02:30

Aidan Shields, far left, standing beside CEO Paul Marchant
Aidan Shields, far left, standing beside CEO Paul Marchant

The chief financial officer of Dublin-based retail giant Primark, Aidan Shields, has left the company after six years in the role, the Irish Independent has learned.

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Mr Shields, a native of Cork, is understood to have moved back to the United States with his family, where he was living prior to taking up the role with Primark. His wife, Patti, has been active in Irish-American activities since they moved to this country.

Mr Shields's departure comes just as Primark is accelerating its roll-out in the US, having opened its first store there last September, in Boston.

Primark is owned by UK group Associated British Foods.

A spokesman confirmed Mr Shields' departure and said that a successor would be appointed in due course. The role is certain to lure a number of high-ranking candidates.

Mr Shields worked closely with Primark chief executive Paul Marchant, who has headed the clothing chain since 2009, when he took over from the legendary Arthur Ryan.

Mr Marchant had previously been the chief operating officer of New Look.

Mr Shields studied at the Cork Institute of Technology, and has an MBA from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California.

Prior to joining Primark, he had worked for retailer Gap and its Old Navy unit, as well as for KPMG in the United States. Primark, which trades as Penneys in Ireland, is the gem in ABF's portfolio of activities, which stretch from sugar production to argi-feeds.

ABF is publicly-listed and controlled by the Weston family, which also owns Brown Thomas, Selfridges, and now Arnotts.

In the financial year to the end of last September, Primark made a £673m profit - about 61pc of the total ABF profit, and accounted for about 42pc the group's £12.8bn revenue.

Primark now has 300 stores in 10 countries, having started off as a one-shop operation in Dublin in 1969.

It expects to open another six outlets in the United States this calendar year, and a 70,000 sq ft store in New Jersey next year.

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