Change is afoot at value fashion giant Primark as it emerged that retail veteran Arthur Ryan is to step down from the running of the business.

Primark has radically overhauled its website from a basic skeleton site to an in-depth information portal, including pages on products, PR and its ethical stance.

It is a sign of things to come at the retailer, which has been run by the secretive Ryan for 40 years, said Verdict analyst Maureen Hinton. “Primark was rather like Mr Ryan – it kept things to itself – but it has realised it has to tackle the PR side because it was being targeted.”

Ryan, who founded Primark in 1969 in Dublin, is expected to stand down as managing director in September. He has driven the retailer’s barnstorming success and will remain as chairman for an interim period. It is understood his successor will be chief operating officer Paul Marchant, who will be promoted to chief executive.

Marchant has a deep knowledge of supply chain issues, which should help him successfully address ethical concerns that have plagued the retailer.

As 190-store Primark continues to grow in the UK and overseas, Marchant will also be well placed to evolve Primark’s “very basic” supply chain and stock systems, according to Hinton.

One former colleague said that Marchant has an excellent eye for fashion and range direction, and will drive areas such as footwear and menswear. He said: “Paul is very product biased and will need a strong team around him outside of the buying and design area.”

It is understood that Primark is seeking a finance executive, although it is unclear whether it intends to replace finance director Patrick Prior.