Sharp Operator: Penneys founder Arthur Ryan remembered

Sharp Operator: Penneys founder Arthur Ryan remembered
Arthur Ryan, the founder of Penneys Picture: Tony O’Shea

He referred to himself as a ‘hired hand’, but Arthur Ryan, the founder of Penneys, who died last week, was a master of retail with an impeccable instinct for what would sell

When Arthur Ryan approached me to set up Penneys’ personnel department in the late 1970s, his pitch was simple: help us build a great business here and in Britain. Back then, there was only a handful of stores, with the main one on Mary Street in north inner-city Dublin. Neither of us in our wildest dreams imagined that the business would grow to what it is today, with 372 stores in 12 countries and more than 75,000 employees.

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