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Billionaire Galen Weston, the businessman behind Penneys, Brown Thomas and Arnotts, dies aged 80

Galen Weston bought the bankrupt department store that would become Penneys in the 1960s, when he moved to Dublin.

Galen Weston and his wife Hilary at the opening of the new Brown Thomas Store in Grafton Street in Dublin. 1995.
Galen Weston and his wife Hilary at the opening of the new Brown Thomas Store in Grafton Street in Dublin. 1995.
Image: RollingNews.ie

CANADIAN BILLIONAIRE GALEN Weston has died aged 80 after a long illness.

The businessman – whose family is listed as the third wealthiest in Canada and 178th wealthiest in the world – bought Quinnsworth and Brown Thomas in 1984, and Arnotts more recently.

He also bought the bankrupt department store that would become Penneys in the 1960s.

“A dutiful son, a beloved husband, a proud father, a devoted grandfather, a loving brother, W Galen Weston dedicated his life to the service of his family, his businesses, and his community,” a statement from Brown Thomas and Arnotts said.

The entrepreneur built food, retail, and real estate companies across two continents. 

These include Loblaw and Choice Properties in Canada and Selfridges Group, which includes Selfridges in the UK, Brown Thomas and Arnotts in Ireland, De Bijenkorf in the Netherlands, and Holt Renfrew in Canada.”

Weston retired as chair of George Weston Limited in 2016, and continued his work with the Weston Family Foundation in Canada, and the Selfridges Group Foundation in the UK.

He is survived by his wife Hilary Frayne – who was one of Ireland’s top fashion models in the 1960s – and their children Alannah and Galen Weston Jr.

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“My father’s greatest gift was inspiring those around him to achieve more than they thought possible,” said Galen Weston, who is now chair and CEO of George Weston Ltd.

“In our business and in his life he leaves behind a legacy of extraordinary accomplishment, and joy.”

His daughter Alannah Weston, chairman of the Selfridges Group, said: “The luxury retail industry has lost a great visionary. His energy electrified those of us who were lucky enough to work alongside him to reimagine what customer experience could be.”

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