Irish retail powerhouse Paul Kelly to step down at end of the year

Veteran worked with Weston family and transformed Brown Thomas and Selfridges

Veteran Irish retailer Paul Kelly will step down as managing director of Wittington Property Investments at the end of this year after 37 years working with the family of the late Galen Weston.

The announcement was made by Alannah Weston, chairwoman of the Selfridges Group and a daughter of the late retail entrepreneur, who died in April, and his Irish wife Hilary. Ms Weston said Mr Kelly would continue to be a “trusted adviser” to the family, adding that he plans to pursue non-executive roles in the private sector.

After beginning his career at Dunnes Stores, Mr Kelly later joined high-end department store Brown Thomas, serving 10 years there as managing director, before becoming chief executive of UK-based Selfridges & Co in 2004.

Ms Weston said Mr Kelly had “spearheaded significant transformation” at both retailers, making them “globally recognised luxury destinations”.



Mr Kelly was appointed group managing director of the Selfridges Group in 2010, overseeing its department stores in Ireland, Britain, Canada and the Netherlands with “great success”. Mr Kelly was a key figure in Selfridges’ acquisition of the Arnotts department store in 2015.

More recently, he has headed up the family’s property portfolio, including identifying possibilities for the Selfridges Hotel and the development of its Parcels Building on Oxford Street in London.

He was awarded the prestigious Isidoro Álvarez Lifetime Achievement Medal at the World Retail Awards in 2019.

In the note released by Ms Weston, Mr Kelly said: “I have had the pleasure of working with Alannah and her parents, Galen and Hilary, and the family for almost 40 years and it has been an absolute privilege to work so closely with them in helping to define the future of retail. I wish them and all my colleagues at Selfridges Group every success in the future.”

Property director

Mr Kelly’s role will be assumed by Tim Reade as property director of Wittington from January 2nd next. Mr Reade has worked with the group since 2014, most recently as group director of asset management.

In July it emerged that the Weston family had hired advisers at Credit Suisse to handle the sale of the European assets of Selfridges Group, including Brown Thomas and Arnotts, with a price tag of £4 billion (€4.7 billion) placed on the business.

The Westons are one of Canada’s richest families. The family was led by Mr Weston who spearheaded the purchase of Selfridges for £628 million in 2003.

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times