The family behind Loblaw may have more money than just about everyone in the country, but that doesn’t mean it’s willing to part with any of it. The Westons gained attention this year for speaking out against “aggressive” minimum wage hike plans for Ontario and Alberta, which Galen Weston Jr.—who took over his father’s post as executive chairman of George Weston Ltd. last year—estimates would cost the food-processing and distribution company another $190 million in annual expenses.
Beyond the grocery store chain—a company founded by Weston Sr.’s grandfather in 1882—the 77-year-old CEO’s focus these days is his portfolio of luxury businesses, including such high-end department stores as Selfridges and Holt Renfrew. These interests have served Weston well over the years, but his company faces new competition from Nordstrom, as the U.S. retailer completed the first phase of its Canadian expansion last year.
As befits a billionaire entering his golden years, Weston also intends to devote more time to his family’s charitable pursuits. Last year, Durham College in Whitby, Ont., renamed its Centre for Food, a three-year-old program that teaches students about sustainable agriculture, food production and food service, after Weston. That move followed $1-million donation from the W. Garfield Weston Foundation—the charitable group’s second significant gift to the school in two years.
Updated Thursday, November 9, 2017