Patriarch Of The Weston Empire, W. Galen Weston, Passes Away At Age 80
Industrialist, philanthropist and gentleman W. Galen Weston, the patriarch of the worldwide Weston empire that controls Loblaw Companies Ltd. and other retail holdings, passed away April 12 at the age of 80. Known as Galen Weston Sr., he died “peacefully at home after a long illness faced with courage and dignity,” according to a family statement.
Born in England in 1940, he received his degree at the University of Western Ontario in the 1960s. After working in Ireland, he moved to Canada in the 1970s largely to run the Loblaw retailing empire where his skills and business acumen turned Loblaw and other companies into a worldwide retailing force. Weston became an innovative businessman and supporter of a wide range of charitable causes, both personally and as chairman of the W. Galen Weston Foundation.
“My father’s greatest gift was inspiring those around him to achieve more than they thought possible,” said his son, Galen G. Weston, known as Galen Weston Jr., who is the chief executive officer of both Loblaw Companies Ltd. and the George Weston Ltd. “In our business and in his life, he built a legacy of extraordinary accomplishment and joy.”
The Weston empire was founded by Galen’s grandfather, George Weston, who laid the foundation in 1882 for a retail empire that owns or controls grocery chain Loblaw and food conglomerate Weston. Although he was born into what was already a significant retailing entity, Galen Weston’s skills led the company through even more expansions and acquisitions.
The Weston empire also owns the fast fashion chain Primark and is the triumvirate of notable department stores, Holt Renfrew in Canada, Brown Thomas in Ireland and Selfridge’s in the United Kingdom. Apart from Loblaw, Weston also ran the George Weston Co., a holding company for various food and bakery brands, from the 1960s until 2016, when he retired but kept the title of chairman emeritus, while his son Galen Jr. ran most of the day-to-day operations of both Loblaw and Weston.
Galen Weston and his wife of 55 years, Hilary Weston (who served as the 26th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario from 1997 until 2002), founded friendships with many of Europe’s royal houses and could be counted on for hosting grand parties for visiting royalty in Toronto, Florida or The Bahamas. It is especially poignant that he passed away just days after his friend, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.
In recognition of his support of many charitable causes concerning youth, the environment and the Canadian Arctic, Galen Weston was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1990.
Selfridges recently shared Alannah Weston’s message below.