All sails set

I see Galen Weston the Younger is planning to launch an ad campaign next week in which he will be front and centre as the official Loblaw spokesman. There’s been a lot of foofaraw comparing him to Dave Nichol, but the more interesting comparison is familial. If G2, as he is known around the office, wanted to set himself apart from the previous generation, he couldn’t have chosen a better way to do it. For years G2’s father, W. Galen Weston, kept a low profile, and for good reason. In 1983, seven armed members of the IRA showed up at Roundwood Park, the Weston family estate south of Dublin, bent on kidnap and ransom. Fortunately, the family had been warned and were safely ensconced at Fort Belvedere, their place in Windsor Great Park.

The incident forever colored W. Galen’s view of public life, as well it should. When we lived in England in 1987-88, I tried to interview Galen but as close as I got was watching him play polo with Prince Charles. It was a wonderful day’s outing, but there was no story.

I finally fared better in 2000 when I was at the National Post, interviewed Galen at length, and wrote a 3,000-word feature. I found him to be an engaging individual, a wonderful story-teller and the consummate retailer. As I left, he asked where I’d bought my blazer and was disappointed to hear Harry Rosen rather than Holt Renfrew.

So good on G2 for granting interviews and stepping out in public. With the stock price down in the $50 range from $75 a year ago, there’s a lot to do. On the Weston family tomb in Toronto’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery, the carved words refer to the importance of setting your sails. So, G2, as they say in Ireland: May the wind be at your back.

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