He was 80 and died at home after a long illness.

Mr Weston helped build food, retail, and real estate companies across two continents, including the Selfridges Group that includes Brown Thomas and Arnotts and businesses in the Netherlands and Canada.

His family’s retail empire also includes a majority shareholding in Associated British Foods, the owner of Penneys and Primark.

“My father’s greatest gift was inspiring those around him to achieve more than they thought possible,” said son Galen G. Weston, Chairman and CEO of George Weston Limited.

“In our business and in his life he leaves behind a legacy of extraordinary accomplishment, and joy.”

Galen Weston and his Dublin-born wife Hilary (File photo, Getty Images)

Since his retirement in 2016, he was involved in philanthropy through the Weston Family Foundation in Canada and the Selfridges Group Foundation in the UK.

“The luxury retail industry has lost a great visionary,” said daughter Alannah Weston, Chairman of Selfridges Group.

“His energy electrified those of us who were lucky enough to work alongside him to reimagine what customer experience could be.”

In 1983, an IRA plot to kidnap him was foiled by gardaí.