The Selfridges Group is owned by British-born Canadian billionaire W. Galen Weston, and his wife, Hilary, and holds in its portfolio four luxury department store groups: British chain Selfridges, Brown Thomas in Ireland, Holt Renfrew in Canada and De Bijenkorf in the Netherlands, as well as Ogilvy in Montreal.
W. Galen is the grandson of George Weston, a Canadian baker who built Canada’s biggest bakery business. Upon his death, his son, W. Garfield Weston, took up the reins of George Weston Ltd. and began a program of expansion and acquisition. In the Thirties, during the Depression, Garfield secured funding to expand into the U.K. and was soon reporting sales equal to the Canadian parent company. Within a few years, Garfield had acquired a string of British bakeries, trading under the Allied Bakeries banner, and he moved his family to England in 1935.
Meanwhile, the U.S. operations were growing stronger. Garfield remained in Britain during World War II, even sitting as a member of Parliament for a time.
W. Galen Weston was born in 1940 and moved with his parents back to Canada in 1945. He watched as his father’s business expanded globally, acquiring subsidiaries from Rhodesia to Australia, and worked in many of them. In 1961, at the age of 21 and after studying business administration at the University of Western Ontario, W. Galen moved to Ireland and set up a grocery store, Powers, with his own money — his father had put him to work at a young age.
In Ireland, W. Galen saw a major opportunity for growth and his instinct was right: by 1965, Powers had expanded into a six-store grocery chain. He went on to acquire a discount chain, Penneys, and a grocery competitor. He purchased an interest in department store Brown Thomas in 1971, eventually acquiring full ownership in 1984. He married Hilary Frayne, an Irish fashion model, in 1966 and together they have built the retail Weston empire.
The Weston family controls about 200 companies, including Canada’s largest supermarket chain, Loblaws, and President’s Choice brands, a variety of grocery and household products, and services, and the Joe Fresh contemporary fashion brand.
Here’s a look at Selfridges Group’s other fashion retail properties.
The original and first Brown Thomas store was opened on Grafton Street in Dublin by haberdashers and general drapers Hugh Brown and James Thomas in 1859. The company was bought by Selfridges founder Harry Gordon Selfridge in 1919 and it operated as a branch of Selfridge Provincial Stores until 1933, when it was sold to John McGuire, who had made his name at Cerys — another Dublin department store. The company was listed on the Irish Stock Exchange in the Sixties, Weston bought his first share in the company in 1971 and he bought it out in 1983. In 1991, the company bought out the Switzer Group, which included stores in Cork, Galway, Limerick and Dublin. In 1994, Brown Thomas sold its original store to Marks & Spencer and took over what was the M&S store on Grafton Street.
In 1998, the company opened the first BT2 boutique, which stocks contemporary and diffusion brands including COS, Etoile by Isabel Marant and Sandro. The shop became home to Ireland’s largest denim bar. There are now three BT2 stores in Dublin.
By 2000, all of the previous Switzer Group stores were rebranded as Brown Thomas. Since 2005, all four of the stores have been refurbished and stock luxury and designer brands including women’s wear from Celine, Stella McCartney, Mary Katrantzou and Christian Louboutin, as well as men’s wear, beauty and home goods. NEXT: Selfridges >>
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye