The North West rich list contains seven billionaires for the second year running although the make-up has changed; Matalan founder John Hargreaves slips out, replaced by Philip Day, owner of Peacocks and Edinburgh Woollen Mill.
The Duke of Westminster remains firmly the richest man in the region, according to The Sunday Times Rich List 2016, due to be published this weekend, with £9.35bn, an increase of £790m on last year.
The Duke’s Grosvenor Group property company reported record profits of £682m and at the end of 2014 had £5.5bn of development work in the pipeline. While his fortune is grounded on 300 acres of Mayfair and Belgravia, in London, he also owns 165,000 acres of rural land, a dairy farm and the Chester Grosvenor Hotel, as well as retaining a stake in Liverpool One which Grosvenor developed. A £500m sister hotel to the Hong Kong Peninsula is to be built in Belgravia on land belonging to the Grosvenor Group.
The 64-year-old duke’s Westminster Foundation spent more than £3.9m charitably last year and donated to the Cheshire and Merseyside community foundations among others. The Duke’s second daughter, Lady Edwina, is married to television historian Dan Snow.
The second of seven North West billionaires is Tom Morris, the man behind the Liverpool-based Home Bargains discount store chain. The business was started by 62-year-old Morris in 1976 when weekly takings were £85. Today, the chain, which sells food and drink, cosmetics, toys and household goods, runs to 370 stores and profits last year stood at £147.1m. The company has net assets of £548m and with an impressive balance sheet, the business is worth £3bn. Morris and his family own it all. With other wealth, they stand at £3.05bn, up £800m in the past year.
Liverpool’s other big discount chain, B&M, has also been hugely rewarding for brothers Simon, Bobby and Robin Arora, who have seen their wealth rise by £170m in the past 12 months to stand at £1.92bn. They sold £204m of shares in the business last July after a £2.7bn float a year earlier. Their remaining stake in the B&M business is worth £704m and they have other property assets in the Far East and the UK.
The discount retailers sandwich property billionaire John Whittaker, in third place in the region. He owns a significant stake in shopping centres group Intu Properties, as well as Manchester Ship Canal, Media City UK and thousands of acres of port land yet to be developed. Based on the Isle of Man, Whittaker is worth £2.34bn, down £30m on last year, according to the rich list’s authors.
Some of the biggest leaps in wealth in Britain have been seen in the North West in the past 12 months. Fred and Peter Done, together with Philip Day, have seen their wealth rise by £300m, making Day a billionaire for the first time, while Mohsin and Zuber Issa have seen their wealth soar by £550m. The Salford-born Done brothers own the Betfred bookmakers, but also have interests in property – currently building Two St Peter’s Square office block in Manchester, as well as insurance, sports promotion and a restaurant; they are now worth £1.3bn. Day owns the Edinburgh Woollen Mill clothing operation, which also encompasses the Peacocks budget fashion chain, the Jane Norman women’s fashion brand, and Ponden Mill, the home furnishings business. The 50-year-old, who lives in Cumbria, saw profits hit £91.2m last year on sales of £562m, valuing the business at £1bn.
The Blackburn-based Issa brothers have seen the value of their Euro Garages fuel distribution group soar after a private equity group took a stake in the business last October, which valued it at £1.3bn. The chain now has more than 341 sites around Britain, with just 25% of profits coming from fuel. Their trick has been to offer partnerships with retailers, including Spar and Subway, to allow motorists to grab groceries or a bite to eat at the same time as refuelling their vehicles. The brothers’ stake in the business is now worth £700m, up from £150m a year ago.
Travelling in the opposite direction – with the biggest fall in wealth in the region during the past year – is John Hargreaves and family. Their wealth has halved to £500m from £1bn last year after a fall in profits at their Matalan fashion chain. The company had a poor Christmas with sales slipping 1.7% on last year. Full-year profits for 2015-16 for the Skelmersdale-based business are expected to be between £54m and £56m, down on forecasts. Founded by former Liverpool market trader, John Hargreaves, who now lives in Monaco, the business is run by his son, Jason.
The 2016 Sunday Times Rich List is published on Sunday 24 April. The 148-page special edition of The Sunday Times Magazine is the biggest issue of the Rich List ever published since it first appeared in 1989. It charts the wealth of the 1,000 richest people in the UK and the 250 richest in Ireland. The list is based on identifiable wealth, including land, property, other assets such as art and racehorses, or significant shares in publicly quoted companies. It excludes bank accounts, to which the paper has no access.
The Sunday Times Rich List is compiled by Philip Beresford and Robert Watts, and edited by Ian Coxon.