Primark's Group Director of New Markets and Business Development Breege O’Donoghue is to leave the Irish-headquartered company after 37 years.

Ms O’Donoghue will step down from her role on the executive board of the fashion retailer, which trades as Penney’s in Ireland, at the end of the financial year in September.

She will continue to represent the company, a subsidiary of Associated British Foods, by performing duties as an ambassador, including her role as a pension trustee.

Ms O’Donoghue joined Primark in 1979 when it had just 24 stores. The company now has more than 300 stores, operates in 11 countries and has some 60,000 employees.

She set up the human resources department and was appointed to the Board in 1988.

She has since gone on to be responsible for a number of important initiatives, including Primark’s programme of overseas store openings.

She supervised the company’s recent launches in the north-east of the US and Italy.

Commenting on the announcement, Primark's chief executive Paul Marchant said: “For many years, Breege has been part of the Primark board that led the transformation of the company into one of the fastest-growing and most successful retailers in Europe.

“Breege developed and ran our human resources department for 36 years, as well as having many other major operational responsibilities.  Her contribution has without doubt significantly helped to make Primark the business that it is today.”