Tycoons: Private Ryan

Tycoons: Private Ryan
Arthur Ryan at the launch of the Arthur Ryan Retail Centre at DIT Pic: Tony O’shea

At the time, almost no one in his own company knew what he looked like. Yet the Penneys/Primark boss Arthur Ryan was one of the most powerful and influential figures in the world of Irish fashion

Arthur Ryan’s employees joke that he is a cross between the Invisible Man and the television detective Columbo. Flanked by his personal security detail, he inspects his stores throughout Ireland and Britain wearing a rumpled old mac to protect his privacy. He keeps his head down and his eyes averted, leaving before his arrival has even been announced.

Only a handful of Ryan’s closest colleagues would be able to pick him out of a...

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