Pure Beauty

Retail tycoon behind Selfridges and Primark, W. Galen Weston, dies at 80

By Becky Bargh | Published: 14-Apr-2021

British-Canadian titan and patriarch of billionaire Weston family helmed businesses spanning luxury clothing and food brands on both sides of the Atlantic

British-Canadian businessman and the retail tycoon behind Selfridges and Primark, W. Galen Weston, has died “peacefully at home” after a long illness.

In a tribute from his daughter, Alannah Weston, who took over from Weston as Chairman of Selfridges in 2019, she said her father had “passed away peacefully at home” and described him as a “true visionary”.

“He was happiest walking the shop floor with my mother and talking to our team members and customers,” she added.

The patriarch of one of Canada’s richest families, estimated to be worth £10.5bn according to The Sunday Times Rich List, Weston was the third generation of his family to lead George Weston Limited, a grocery business established in 1882.

Leading the business founded by his grandfather, Weston was instrumental in forging the company's large-scale expansion into retail and property.

The family-run business, now helmed by Weston’s son Galen, is the majority owner of UK-based Wittington Investments, which controls businesses including Selfridges Group and Fortnum & Mason.

As owner of Selfridges Group, Weston oversaw the retail empire's operations, consisting of its eponymous department store chain in the UK, Brown Thomas in Ireland and De Bijenkorf of the Netherlands.

Wittington Investments also has a majority stake in Associated British Foods, the owner of the discount clothing group Primark.

Members of the Weston family continue to hold major leadership roles in the retail businesses owned by the group.

Weston’s niece, Kate Hobhouse, is the Chairman of Fortnum & Mason, while his nephew George Weston is Chief Executive of Associated British Foods.

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