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 yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion