Tuesday 20 March 2018

Sandymount's Hilary Weston (74) is one half of Canada's ultimate power couple. The model-turned-retailer, philanthropist and statesman is married to Galen Weston, Canada's richest man.

The Weston family own some of the most valuable department stores in the world, as well as a huge bread, retail, property and food empire in Canada. Holt Renfrew is the world's second biggest luxury department store business.

Last year, the Westons added Dublin department store, Arnotts, to their portfolio, which already includes Brown Thomas, Selfridges, Holland's De Bijenkork and Ogilvy in Canada. They also own a 46pc stake in €18bn-valued Loblaw, Canada's biggest retailer, as well as the George Weston bakery business and the €1bn-valued Choice properties. However, the family wealth took a hit this year due to the weakness of the 'Loonie' or Canadian dollar.

Hilary met Galen when he was scouting out Ireland for potential business opportunities. They married, and her love of fashion led to them setting up Penneys in Dublin. It has grown to become a collosal international brand under the Primark name, although it is owned by another branch of the Weston family, following a complex divvying up of assets during the 1970s.

Their offspring have married well, too. Daughter Alannah, now the creative director of Selfridges, married Alexander Cochrane, son of Sir Marc Cochrane, who lived at Woodbrook in Bray. Son Galen JR is married to the glamorous Alexandra Schmidt, heir to the Bata shoe fortune.

As well as their extensive retail interests, the Westons own some insanely valuable real estate including the exclusive Windsor resort at Vero Beach in Florida, a castle close to Windsor and their own private island in a national park in Canada.

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