The founder of legendary Irish retailer Penneys, Arthur Ryan, has passed away at the age of 83 following a short illness.

Mr Ryan founded the first ever Penneys store on Mary Street in 1969, on behalf of the Weston family, when he was just in his 20’s.

He was the CEO and Chairman of the legendary clothing chain, which expanded internationally as Primark under Ryan in the 1970s. Currently, Primark has over 370 stores across Europe and America.

Current CEO of Primark, Paul Marchant, said that Ryan was a ‘gifted retailer and visionary leader’.

“On behalf of everyone at Primark, we want to extend our deepest sympathies to [Ryan’s] wife alma and his family at this difficult time,” Marchant said.

“Arthur Ryan was a retail pioneer and a man of remarkable business acumen. At Primark, we feel very fortunate to have experienced up close his drive and passion for the business as well as his integrity, warmth and wonderful sense of humour.

“He was very generous in so many ways. He devoted a lot of his time to advise and connect people and he quietly supported people in the background in times of need.

“Despite his many talents and successes in life, Arthur always modelled great humility. He said that we should ‘remember who we are, challenge ourselves to be the best we can be, push the boundaries all the time and never be complacent or satisfied’.

“His words remain guiding principles at Primark today. Throughout his entire career he remained strongly connected to the customer and regularly visited the stores and walked the shop floors. Equally, he placed great importance on talent development and influenced so many careers, which remains instilled in Primark’s culture today.

“Arthur Ryan’s legacy will continue to live on in the business that he founded and built. He will be hugely missed by his Primark family,” Marchant continued.

Mr Ryan’s death comes as the beloved budget retailer celebrates it’s 50th anniversary this year. Mr Ryan is survived by his wife Alma.