FORMER PRIMARK DIRECTOR Breege O’Donoghue has been announced as the new chair of the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI).
Earlier this year, O’Donoghue (73) moved on from her role with the budget clothing giant Primark after 37 years with the company.
She joined the Irish-founded company in the late 1970s, 10 years after it opened its first outlet in Dublin city centre.
She oversaw the establishment of its HR operations when the chain had just 24 stores and moved into new international markets.
Last year, the DCCoI completed a year-long programme, called Irish Design 2015 (ID2015), that aimed to showcase Irish design and creative talent internationally in order to increase exports and generate additional employment.
Design & Crafts Council of Ireland chief executive Karen Hennessy said that O’Donoghue’s experience in international markets will help the organisation build on Irish Design 2015.
“Breege’s experience will be invaluable as we chart our course for the coming year in order to reap the benefits of ID2015 and ensure the necessary supports are in place to maintain momentum and exploit opportunities to grow the sector,” she said.
“Priorities include developing export markets for DCCoI client companies, addressing the impacts of Brexit and encouraging the strategic use of design for the benefit of society and our economy.”
Speaking about her appointment to the DCCoI, O’Donoghue said she wants to ensure the contribution of the design and craft sector to Ireland’s economy is appreciated.
“I have been impressed by the significant achievements of the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland in strategically developing the design and craft industry as an innovative, dynamic and vibrant sector,” she said.
During her 37 years at Primark, O’Donoghue helped the clothing chain expand into new international markets. The company now has over 300 outlets in 11 countries.
In her most recent role as head of new markets at the company, she oversaw Primark’s expansion into the US market. As part of this venture into North America, the company has opened stores in Boston, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Next March, Primark will open its first store in New York on Staten Island.
O’Donoghue stepped away from this role in September to “move on to her next phase of life”, however, she still acts as an ambassador for the brand and is also a non-executive director of cider maker C&C Group.