Hilary, Alannah and Galen Jr Weston and family
Dublin-born Galen Jr took charge of the retail conglomerate founded in 1882 by his great-grandfather, baker George Weston, when his father Galen Sr stepped down as executive chairman last September, saying he wanted to "make space for the next generation". Galen Jr, 44, cut his teeth running the family's Canadian supermarket group, Loblaw. "Reaching a fourth generation represents unique longevity among family-led firms," he said. Galen Jr had raised his personal profile by fronting a series of TV and radio ads promoting Loblaw's environmental credentials. If he follows family tradition, he'll run the show for the next three decades: Galen Sr, who was born in Marlow near London and retains the title of chairman emeritus, said that he was following the precedent of his own father, Garfield, who was 75 when he gave up the chairmanship in 1974.
The family takes the top position in the Irish Rich List for the ninth time on the back of an empire that straddles the Atlantic. Hilary, 75, was born in Dublin and made the first dress sold by Penneys, the company that became the Primark chain, after her husband, Galen Sr, bought a “whole bunch” of shops in the depressed Ireland of the late 1960s. He had come to Ireland to set up a grocery chain, and Hilary caught his eye when she was working as a model. They lived there with their children, Alannah and Galen Jr, until 1983 when they left for Canada following an IRA kidnap attempt. Wicklow-born Alannah, 45, is a director of George Weston Limited and deputy chairman of the Selfridges group, having served as creative director since 2004. She is married to Wicklow-born architect Alex Cochrane.
The family controls 63% of Toronto-based George Weston Limited, which is worth €6.7bn and is Canada's largest private-sector employer with 200,000 staff. They have a controlling 60.9% stake in Toronto-based Loblaw, Canada's largest grocery chain, and three US companies in the baking and dairy industries. The extended Weston family also owns 20.8%, worth €5bn, of London-based Associated British Foods and Dublin-based Primark, which trades as Penneys in the Republic. ABF and Primark are run by Galen Jr’s cousin, George Weston. ABF's shares have slipped and the family are down more than €1.17bn on last year. As well as Selfridges, the Westons own the department stores Ogilvy and Holt Renfrew in Canada, Brown Thomas and Arnotts in Dublin, De Bijenkorf in the Netherlands, and Heal's furniture stores in the UK. Hilary is a leading light in Canadian society, charities and the art world. She and Galen Sr are close to the royal family, Galen having been a polo partner of Prince Charles. They rent Fort Belvedere in Windsor Great Park, once the home of Edward, Prince of Wales. They also founded and have a palatial home in the 416-acre Windsor resort in Florida.