His first business was importing modern, streamlined Scandinavian housewares and furnishings. He followed that in 1958 with the start-up Clairtone Sound, a collaboration with Peter Munk, a Hungarian-born electrical engineer. The company made critically acclaimed, sophisticated hi-fi systems whose buyers included Frank Sinatra and Hugh Hefner. But it foundered after branching into televisions and shifting operations, disastrously, to Nova Scotia.
Amid steep losses, Mr. Gilmour and Mr. Munk were forced out of the company in 1968 and later settled a lawsuit claiming that they sold shares before the announcement of poor quarterly results in 1967.
They recovered quickly, starting Southern Pacific Properties in 1969, which accumulated more than 50 hotels in Australia, New Zealand as well as in Fiji, New Caledonia, Tahiti and other islands. An ambitious development that was to be built near the pyramids in Giza, Egypt, was eventually nixed by President Anwar Sadat in 1978.
Three years later, Tan Sri Khoo Teck Puat, a Singaporean banker, purchased Southern Pacific for a reported $130 million, but Wakaya remained separately owned by Mr. Gilmour and his partners, until Mr. Gilmour bought them out.
In the early 1980s, Mr. Gilmour and Mr. Munk were among the original partners in Barrick Gold, one of the world’s largest gold producers. Mr. Munk was its longtime chairman and chief executive, and Mr. Gilmour was a board member until 2001. Mr. Munk died in 2018.
Mr. Gilmour described his working relationship with Mr. Munk in 2008 with The Globe and Mail of Toronto. “I am more the entrepreneurial type who likes challenges of starting up, and Peter loves growing a colossus,” he said. “Once it reaches a critical mass, I kind of get bored sitting around a boardroom table.”
Fiji water, marketed as a luxury brand, was a major commercial success but, like other brands, drew scorn from environmentalists, who criticized the industry for the energy consumed and greenhouse gases created in making and shipping plastic bottles, and for the plastic waste they leave behind. Fiji, in particular, was singled out for shipping water to consumers thousands of miles away.