Arthur Ryan obituary

Founder of Primark, the fashion chain that revolutionised the high street

Arthur Ryan was scarcely a household name in the UK but his products – and brown paper shopping bags – are visible everywhere. Ryan, who has died aged 83, was the man who cut a swathe through the British high street by inventing Primark. The low-price clothing retailer upended such well-known chains as Marks & Spencer, and hastened the demise of others, establishing a new pattern of marketing that chimed with millennials and cost-conscious older generations alike. It brought fashion to a mass market alongside accusations of encouraging the “throwaway society”.

The formula is clear: simple pricing, with low-cost suppliers often in the developing world, a keen eye on fashion shows and trends, with virtual lookalikes on sale at a fraction of the price of the real thing, and rapid reaction to what sells or does not.

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