Monday 20 November 2017

Primark supremo Ryan sitting on €8m share fortune

Arthur Ryan, founder of Penneys/Primark
Arthur Ryan, founder of Penneys/Primark
Primark, which trades as Penney's in Ireland, has a retail presence across Europe
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Arthur Ryan, the Dublin retailer who drove Primark towards international success, has amassed a £6.6m (€8.3m) share fortune in the chain's owner, Associated British Foods (ABF).

Newly-filed accounts for a company called Primark Senior Executive Pension Trustees, of which Mr Ryan is a director, notes that at the end of September last year he owned over 231,000 shares in ABF.

Based on the ABF share price last Friday of £28.68, those shares are now worth £6.6m.

Mr Ryan headed Primark, which trades as Penneys in Ireland, since it opened on Dublin's Mary Street in 1969. He had been working for Dunnes Stores before he made the move.

Despite having stepped down as chief executive of Primark in 2009, Mr Ryan has remained closely linked with the business, having been appointed chairman of the chain when he retired as CEO. He turned 79 just over a week ago.

He was so publicity-shy that he even declined to be named in ABF's annual report.

In 2012, Dublin Institute of Technology opened the Arthur Ryan Retail Centre, which fosters links between academia and the retail sector, and aims to be a centre of excellence for retail education.

The centre was backed with €1.1m in funding from the Garfield Weston Foundation. The Weston family owns a majority stake in ABF. Galen Weston's family also owns Brown Thomas in Ireland, as well as Selfridges.

Mr Ryan oversaw Primark's first foray into mainland Europe in 2006. It now has stores in countries such as Spain, Portugal, France, Germany and the Netherlands. But the retail giant continues to be headquartered in Dublin.

It's also plotting its first store in the US. It will open an outlet in Boston towards the end of 2015, having already secured a large premises in the city.

In Associated British Foods' last financial year, Primark generated revenue of £4.2bn (€5.3bn) and an operating profit of £512m (€645m). The figures were up 22pc and 44pc respectively on the previous year.

The chain accounted for 32pc of ABF's total revenue and 43pc of the group's total profits.

Irish Independent

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