Tuesday 16 January 2018

Who is Galen Weston, the Brown Thomas owner chasing control of Arnotts?

Mr Weston married his Irish wife Hilary in 1966 and they acquired an interest in Brown Thomas in the seventies
Mr Weston married his Irish wife Hilary in 1966 and they acquired an interest in Brown Thomas in the seventies
Hilary Weston

GALEN WESTON's business interests are vast and lucrative.

As the executive chairman of George Weston, he heads up one of North America's largest food processing and distribution groups.

Its subsidiaries include Canadian supermarket chain Loblaw, which has just announced it will spin off its real estate holdings to form one of the country's biggest property investment trusts.

The Weston family also controls Selfridges Group, whose department store brands include Ogilvys and Holt Renfrew in Canada, Brown Thomas in Ireland, the eponymous Selfridges in the UK and de Bijenkorf in the Netherlands.

They also have a large stake in Associated British Foods, the company behind Penneys and Primark.

Their combined wealth is estimated at about $10.4bn (€7.59bn).

The youngest of nine, Galen Weston was born in Buckinghamshire in 1940, to an already wealthy family – his grandfather founded George Weston as a bakery firm in 1882.

MOVED

He met his Irish wife, Hilary Frayne, when he moved to Dublin shortly after graduating from the University of Western Ontario in Canada, to build up the Powers supermarket chain that later traded as Quinnsworth.

They married in 1966 and acquired an interest in Brown Thomas in the 1970s, eventually acquiring full ownership.

The couple have two children and lived for a period in Roundwood, Co Wicklow, until 1983 when they moved permanently back to Canada after a foiled IRA kidnap attempt.

Ms Frayne, a former model, grew up in Dun Laoghaire.

Her career has spanned politics as well as the family business – she was lieutenant governor of Ontario from 1997 to 2002.

Mr Weston's hobbies include polo and art – and he collects pieces by the artist Christo.

The couple are also well-known philanthropists.

Irish Independent

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