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Arthur Ryan

Chairman, Primark

Arthur Ryan may have taken a back seat after the promotion of Paul Marchant to chief executive in September, but his vision and passion continue to be felt at the value giant, which has, once again, been unstoppable this year.

Like-for-like sales increased 7% for the year to September 12, while total sales soared 20% during the period - not a bad birthday present for the retailer, which celebrates 40 years of trading in 2009. But such is Ryan’s temperament - on the outside at least - that there was no public birthday bash. Still, this publicity-shy Irishman, who is understood to have partied until the small hours after Primark’s opening on London’s Oxford Street in 2007, may well have held his own, private party with friends and employees, who say that Ryan is an inspiration to them all.

He may be nearing retirement, but Ryan has kept his eye on the ball when it comes to current issues on ethics, appointing Katharine Kirk as ethical trade director and almost doubling Primark’s number of factory audits in 2009 to 1,000.

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