// British-Canadian retail magnate W. Galen Weston dies aged 80
// He led George Weston Ltd, a global retail empire that includes he UK-based Wittington Investments
// Wittington Investments owns Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason and Heal’s and has a majority stake in Primark
W. Galen Weston, the patriarch of one of the world’s leading retail dynasties that owns Selfridges and Primark, has died at age 80.
Weston was the third generation of his family to lead George Weston Ltd, a global retail empire founded by his grandfather, which he expanded significantly.
The family company, now run by his son Galen Weston, has links to UK-based Wittington Investments, which is headed up by chairman Guy Weston and operates Fortnum & Mason, Heal’s and Selfridges Group.
The Selfridges Group consists of the eponymous department store in the UK, Holt Renfrew in Canada, de Bijenkorf in the Netherlands and both Brown Thomas and Arnotts in Ireland.
Wittington Investments also has a majority stake in Primark parent company AB Foods.
Members of the Weston family continue to hold major leadership roles in the retail businesses they own.
W. Galen Weston’s daughter Alannah Weston is the chair of the Selfridges Group, while his niece Kate Hobhouse is chairwoman of Fortnum & Mason and nephew George Weston is chief executive of AB Foods.
Weston passed away peacefully at home after a long illness, the family said in a statement.
He was born in Buckinghamshire, England, and moved to Dublin at 21 where he met his wife, Irish model Hilary Frayne. They married in 1966.
Weston’s grandmother gave him the funds to launch a string of retailers in Ireland, some of which would go to helping Arthur Ryan open the first Primark store in Dublin in 1969.
In the 1970s Weston moved to Canada, where his family’s business is headquartered, to revive the Loblaws supermarket chain, which he helped turn into one of the largest food distributors in the country.
The Weston family continues to be among the wealthiest in Canada, with Forbes estimating their total wealth at $8.7 billion.
In the UK, they are the eighth-richest sterling billionaires in the country with an estimated worth of £10.53 billion, according to the most recent Sunday Times Rich List.