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Global: Galen and Hilary Weston

Global: Galen and Hilary Weston

Getty Images for Holt Renfrew

Global: Galen and Hilary Weston

Retail - €8.6bn up €1.5bn

Running the sewing machine that stocked the first Primark store on Dublin’s Mary Street must feel like a lifetime away for Hilary Weston (78), the matriarch of the multi-billion euro Weston retail empire.

Dun Laoghaire-born Hilary will place much pride in the central role the country has continued to play in her family’s fortune. Her work in developing the Primark business has seen the fast-fashion business become the golden goose of the Weston-controlled Associated British Foods.

The sprawling global retail empire belonging to the Weston family, which includes Brown Thomas, Selfridges and Loblaw, Canada’s biggest grocery chain, has its roots in Ireland. It started when Eliza Whalley, Galen Weston’s Northern Irish grandmother, offered him a hundred grand to travel from Canada to Ireland and set up a business here.