W. Galen Weston, the patriarch of a retail and food empire that spans the Atlantic, has died at 80.
Weston’s family announced his death on Tuesday, saying in a statement that he died “peacefully at home after a long illness faced with courage and dignity.”
The retail magnate was one of Canada’s wealthiest people, having amassed a net worth of $10.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Weston was the third generation of his family to run George Weston Limited, which started as a commercial food operation in Canada but expanded over decades to include Canadian grocery business Loblaw and real estate firm Choice Properties. The family also controls British high-end department store chain Selfridges and discount retailer Primark.
“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,” his daughter, Alannah Weston, who is the chairman of Selfridges Group, said in a statement.
The entrepreneur was also close to the British royal family. Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, was a polo partner and friend, the New York Times reported in 2007.
In 1983, Weston was the target of an attempted kidnapping in Ireland. Police sources told the New York Times after the plot was foiled that the Provisional Irish Republican Army was behind the attempt.
Weston retired as chairman of George Weston Limited in 2016 to devote more time to his philanthropic endeavors. He was married to his wife, Hilary Weston, for 55 years.
“My father’s greatest gift was inspiring those around him to achieve more than they thought possible. In our business and in his life he built a legacy of extraordinary accomplishment and joy,” his son, Galen G. Weston, chairman and CEO of George Weston Limited, said in a statement.