Today the 100 richest businesspeople in the North West have been revealed.
Rob Watts, most commonly known for his annual Sunday Times Rich List has been working with our sister title North West Business Insider to compile the North West Rich list featuring the 100 most well off buisnesspeople in the region.
Few of us would disagree that these are hard time to run a business. High raw material costs, labour shortages and eye-watering energy prices all make for a challenging commercial climate.
However, these rankings showcase the business leaders and entrepreneurs who are continuing to make hay. The combined wealth of this year’s 100 entries climbs to £44.464bn – up 7.7% in 12 months.
The Issa brothers, the petrol station tycoons now running Asda, elbow aside Home Bargains king Tom Morris to take the top spot in our rankings this year. Fred and Peter Done, another pair of brothers, have also had a strong year – gilding their wealth by £800m.
But our new entries often prove most interesting. After the bursting of the tech bubble over the past
18 months, this year’s debutants include those who have built fortunes from more everyday products, including plumbing supplies, timber, furniture and milk.
Few, if any, have built their £80m-plus fortunes as quickly as the Beahon brothers. Often our new entries’ companies have been run for many years or even generations.
Many of those on our list have battled difficult trading conditions and failures along the way before finally tasting success.
To see the full list visit North West Business Insider.
The Lancashire entries in the top 100 include:
1. Mohsin and Zuber Issa, 05/07/71 and 28/06/72 - Blackburn - take the top slot as the richest businesspeople in the North West.
Higher fuel prices have put a tiger in the tank of the Issa brothers’ petrol retailing empire. Sales at their Blackburn-based EG Group grew by 16% to £23.9bn in 2022. EG now has 6,600 forecourts in the UK, Ireland, Europe, Australia and the United States. The Issas own 50% of the business, which despite its debt pile and losses should now be worth £9.5bn. Their stewardship of Asda, which the pair teamed up to buy with a private equity firm in 2021, has only raised their public profile. This summer MPs criticised the brothers’ answers to questioning over whether the supermarket’s profit margins on fuel have increased. Zuber Issa told parliamentarians that Asda’s petrol pricing strategy didn’t change after their takeover. The Issas’ entrepreneurial story began just over 20 years ago when they bought their first forecourt in Bury. They cannily plugged well-known food chains such as Starbucks and KFC into the sites. There are growing signs that the brothers are diversifying into new areas. They recently poured £30m into HVS, a manufacturer of hydrogen-powered lorries. Diso, the Issas’ vitamin brand, is now stocked in the Knightsbridge department store Harrods. But it’s the rising sales at EG Group which take the brothers to the top of our region’s Rich List with estimated wealth of £5.25bn.
8. Peter Jones and family, 18/03/35 -Bolton
Now nearing 90, Jones is still hard at work building his global property empire. Over more than 60 years in the business his developments have included the Lowry Outlet on The Quays in Manchester and the home of Bolton Wanderers Football Club. He also owns Bolton’s Middlebrook Retail Park and the Algarve’s Bovista Spa Resort. The former carpenter’s UK house builder constructed 436 homes last year, and his commercial property outfit has bought new sites in Warrington and Bolton. His US-based house builder completed a record 560 homes, and his hotels and holiday parks in Portugal are also recovering well from the pandemic. Jones’ two main companies now show wealth of £1.24bn - £109m more than a year ago.
14. Matthew Riley, 15/02/74 - Nelson
Telecoms and IT
Riley recently added cyber security outfit ECSC to his rapidly expanding Daisy Group. ECSC’s clients include Nationwide and the Wimbledon tennis championship. Riley’s Nelson-based group provides a wide range of telecoms, IT and other services. Daisy now employs around 1,000 staff and is now second to BT Group in the UK’s SME telecoms market. Although loss-making and laden with debt, the group should be worth £1bn. Riley, who was mentored by Sir Philip Green in the earlier days of his career and once appeared as a judge on The Apprentice, owns at least 75% of the shares.
15. Tim Knowles, 23/12/64 - Chorley
Knowles is hard at work building a £100m business park on his Botany Bay site near Chorley. The Lancastrian developer has plenty of experience in property, having amassed a debt-free £10m portfolio by the age of 21. Today his FI Real Estate Management business renovates and manages real estate across the UK and Europe. Publicly-filed information only accounts for a sliver of his wealth. He has equity worth £690.2m across six separate companies. Assets in Dubai, St Tropez, the Isle of Man and elsewhere add another £27m. He has a £600,000 wine collection and should be worth £718m.
16. Mahmud Kamani and family, 29/08/64 - links to Manchester and Burnley
Kamani and his fellow Boohoo shareholders have had plenty to shed a tear about over the past year. Soaring energy, shipping and labour costs have badly hit the fast-fashion retailer. The Manchester-based group racked up a £90.7m loss in 2022-23 and the shares are down more than 40% since last year. Kamani set up Boohoo in 2006 with his business partner Carol Kane. He and his family still own 22.51% of the business – stakes together worth £108.6m. Over the years the Kamanis have sold shares in the group worth more than £420m. Two of the family’s property companies show assets of £18.2m. The Kamanis have invested in several other North West businesses, including LADBible, the viral video media group run by Alex Solomou.
18. Jonathan Warburton and family, 01/06/57 - Bolton
The chairman of the Bolton-based baking giant continues to innovate. His latest creation is a lower-calorie crumpet. Warburtons already sells more than 100 million crumpets a year as well as loaves, teacakes and a wide range of other baked goods. The lighter crumpet follows successful launches of thinner bagels and other products designed to attract those looking to watch their weight. Warburtons was founded nearly 150 years ago and should still be worth the £468.5m we can see on the main balance sheet. A strong run of dividends adds £117m to Britain’s best-known baking dynasty.
23= Mark Radcliffe and family, 13/01/79 - Skelmersdake
Radcliffe’s Victorian Plumbing doubled profits in the six months to the end of March. Such strong results has helped the share price climb by nearly 25% over the past year. Radcliffe set up the bathroom supplier from a garden shed in 2000 and banked £212m when he took the company onto the stock market 21 years later. He and his family own 59.7% of the Skelmersdale-based outfit – a holding worth £138.9m. The value of their shares has grown by £57.8m over the past year. Unafraid of work at an early age, Radcliffe lied about how old he was so he could get a job in a battery farm when he was 10 years old.
31. Emma Hindle and family, 19/05/75 - Lancashire and Cumbria
Hindle, a former Olympic horsewoman, has launched a new developer specialising in upmarket homes across Lancashire and Cumbria. Woodhouse Bespoke concentrates on properties in well-connected rural locations worth between £750,000 and £2.5m. Hindle previously set up Lancet Homes, a house builder named after her steed at the 2008 Olympics games. But the bulk of her family’s wealth stems from Sale-based Brookhouse Properties, an owner of retail parks and other commercial sites in Preston, Stockport and further afield. In 2022 the main company showed net assets of £326.4m.
33. Ted Fort, 21/03/37 - Burnley
Fort’s valve and fitting manufacturer has had a strong year. The Burnley-based company grew profits to £18.3m on sales of £94.4m in 2022. The former Rolls Royce apprentice set up the operation in 1967 and there are now more than 560 people on the payroll. Fort owns seven commercial properties, as well as homes in Montserrat, Antibes, Lancashire and in the New Forest. A good run of dividends – including £8m over the past year – help take the keen sailor to £305m.
41. Martin Ainscough and family, 06/06/52 - Wigan and Chorley
One of nine children in a family from the outskirts of Wigan, Ainscough left school at 15 without a qualification to his name. He made his fortune from setting up a crane hire business, selling it for £255m just before the financial crash of 2007. His Ainscough Group now includes two property companies, a Chorley plant-hire business, an engineering firm and an equestrian centre as well as the tourist attraction Adventure Parc Snowdon. The rising balances of some of the Ainscough companies nudges him and his family to £228m.
42. Andrew Staley, 24/03/55 - Bolton
Staley’s fund management group Marlborough has been having a hard time. Investment returns were hit by the pandemic and market turbulence in the wake of the Ukraine invasion. Some clients pulled their money out of the Bolton-based group’s funds, hitting revenues and profits. During 2022 the group’s assets under management fell by 28% to just over £10bn. Marlborough should now be worth around £200m. But taking account of a windfall from selling Bristol-based Parmenion Capital in 2016, dividends and other wealth should take the former TSB bank clerk to £225m.
45. John Morphet, 22/11/54 - Carnforth
Footballer Harry Maguire recently snapped up a villa at Morphet’s Royal Westmoreland. The Manchester United defender has joined a long run of sports stars to buy a retreat at the 750-acre Barbados estate. The luxury Caribbean enclave is the jewel in the crown of Morphet’s Pure Leisure Group, which has 13 holiday lodge and caravan parks across the North West and six more elsewhere in England. There is also a 6,500-acre site in northern Scotland. Profits at Morphet’s Carnforth-based Pure Leisure soared to £76.7m in 2021-22.
46. Paul Rowley, 17/03/66 - Leyland
Rowley paid himself £10m after a record year in 2022. Turnover at his Leyland-based house builder topped £100m for the first time, and chalked up profits of £25.7m during the year. A former brickie, Rowley set up the business 30 years ago. Recent developments have been completed in Garstang, Wesham, Bolton, Euxton, Bolton and Blackrod. Rowland Homes should now be worth £180m, with dividends and other wealth adding £12m.
53= The Seddon family - Bolton
Seddon Group gave more than £1m to cancer charity The Christie in their 125 th year of trading. The Bolton-based company is one of the Seddons’ two separate construction and property businesses. Seddon Group made higher profits of £8.6m on nearly £210m of turnover in 2021. The separate Crewe-based JSSH was set up in 2013 and owns a portfolio of residential, commercial and industrial properties across the North West and the Midlands. This company showed £55.1m of assets on its balance sheet in 2021. Taking account of dividends and other wealth suggest the Seddons should easily be worth £164m.
55. Mark Adlestone and family, 16/01/59 - Lytham St Annes
High-street jewellery chain Beaverbrooks has launched a luxury diamond, jewellery and watch boutique brand. The first of the Loupe stores opened in Milton Keynes last year and sells Rolex, Omega and other high-end brands. Adlestone chairs Beaverbrooks, which began trading in 1919 when three brothers started selling silverware from a suitcase. Profits doubled to £21.6m on record sales of £202.4m in 2021-21. The Lytham St Annes-based group should easily be worth £160m. A big music collector, Adlestone owns more than 2,600 albums and 450 vinyl singles.
59. Roger and Giles Bracewell and family, 01/11/60 and 05/01/65 - Chorley
These are leaner times for GA Pet Food Partners. Profits fell by 17% and the Chorley-based dry pet food manufacturer’s headcount fell by nearly 10%. Previously arable farmers, the Bracewells moved into making foods for domestic animals after realising margins were larger than by selling wheat grown at their 2,500-acre farm. Roger chairs the business and his brother Giles also serves as a director. After a tougher year we cut the value of the business to £146.4m – in line with the net assets on the main company’s balance sheet.
62. Seamus McDermott and family, 12/06/64 - links to Leyland
McDermott’s house builder is in sturdy shape, growing sales by almost 12% to £50.3m over the past year. He set up the Altham-based firm from his spare bedroom in 1992 and since then has completed developments in Leyland, Kirkby and other parts of the North West and Yorkshire. Rising profits of £17.3m suggest McDermott Homes in now worth at least £140m. McDermott and his family own at least 95% of the shares – a stake worth £133m. His house builder sponsors Burnley Football Club.
64. George Lamb and family, 22/01/35 - Blackburn
Blackburn Chemicals makes control agents used by a wide range of industries, exporting its wares to 60 countries. Lamb set up the outfit in 1972 and all six of his children have worked for the business over the years. Now nearing 90, Lamb still serves as chairman. Profits fell by 12% to £10.9m on rising turnover of £68.1m in 2021-22. The business, owned entirely by Lamb and his trusts, should now be worth at least £110m. A run of dividends – including £3.2m over the past year – adds £16m.
67. Michael O’Hara and family, 11/09/45 - Wigan
O’Hara began importing German braces, struts and other equipment used on construction sites in the early 1980s. He soon started making his own products from a site near Wigan, where his MGF continues to operate from today. There are also premises in Castleford, Durham, Bristol, Tring, Dartford, Exeter, Livingston and Warrington. Profits have fallen back to £8.7m but turnover has continued to grow. MGF should easily be worth £100m. O’Hara still chairs the business and with his trust owns all the shares. There was a £3.2m dividend over the past year. Payouts in earlier years should easily add take the O’Haras to £116m.
68=Diane Bovingdon and family, 13/12/54 - Altham
Coach House has installed more than 2,000 solar panels and planted 400,000 mangrove trees in Madagascar to offset its carbon emissions. Bovingdon launched the furniture and homeware retailer with her father when she was 22. The Altham-based company’s names stems from their first premises; an old barn adjoining a Yorkshire inn. Profits fell sharply in 2022, partly due to £6.8m of dividends taken during the year. With sales steady and £71.9m on the balance sheet, Coach House should be worth at least £100m. A run of dividends adds £15m.
71. Phil Boyle, 13/01/84 - Darwen
Flavour Warehouse has recently introduced autonomous mobile robots in its warehouses to boost productivity. Boyle co-founded the Darwen-based e-liquid retailer, best known for its big-selling brand Vampire Vape. His other labels include Base, Premier Vaping, Total Vapour and Vapouriz. Sales and the number of employees more than doubled to £77.5m in 2021. Boyle owns 83% of the £130m business. A separate investment company adds £5.7m.
74= Gordon Kay and family, 14/01/47 - Blackburn
Last November Kay sold Heatmiser to engineering giant IMI. The deal valued his thermostat manufacturer at £110m, and may deliver another £8m if the company continues to hit certain targets. Kay set up Blackburn-based business as an electrical contractor, gradually moving into making underfloor heating systems and state-of-the-art thermostats. His children Martyn and Sarah have been running Heatmiser in recent years and remain in post. Taking account of tax on the sale and a run of dividends should put the Kays at around £105m.
74= Carl Woodcock and family, 24/09/76 - Chorley
Woodcock and his family own and run Yew Tree Dairy. The Chorley-based group sells milk, cream and milk powders throughout the UK and to European customers. Turnover jumped from £117m to £163.7m over the past year, partly due to rising dairy prices. Margins almost tripled. Profits of £11.9 million suggest the group should be worth at least £100m. A separate company adds another £5m.
80= Dave Whelan and Jayne Best, 24/11/36 and 01/12/62 - Wigan and Blackburn
Football and sport equipment
Whelan’s Fitness First gyms were hit hard by the pandemic. The former professional footballer has been trying to reduce his rents as part of a corporate restructure. After hanging up his boots at Blackburn Rovers, Whelan bought JJ Bardburns, a sports and fishing shop in Wigan. He turned this into the high-street giant JJB Sports, which he would later sell for £190m. Whelan picked up another £22m from selling Wigan Athletic in 2018. But his DW Sports gym and shop chain collapsed into administration in 2020 and the large losses at Fitness First slashes his wealth to £100m. His daughter Jayne Best owns Jersey’s St Brelade’s Bay hotel.
83= Bill Bowker and family, 15/05/60 - Preston
William Henry Bowker used the gratuity he received from leaving the British army at the end of
World War One to buy a truck, and was soon making deliveries across Lancashire. The business
he created remains in his family’s hands, now operating 225 vehicles and trailers. The Preston-based logistics firm also has more than 1.5 million square feet of warehousing space across 12 distribution centres. Bill Bowker is one of seven members of the Bowker family who currently serve as directors. Profits rose strongly to £9.3m on record sales of £248.4m in 2021. Bowker Group should be worth £90m with dividends and other family wealth adding another £5m.
83= Colin Mustoe and family, 31/07/45 - Altham
Mustoe began designing and making office furniture in 1976, building and delivering products to customers himself. Over the years his company Senator International has helped kit out the England’s National Football Centre, the government agency Homes England and numerous corporate clients. Earnings and turnover fell during the pandemic when millions of people were obliged to work from home. The Altham-based business should be worth £85m. Senator remains owned by Mustoe and his family. Past salaries, dividends and property add another £10m.
87= James Merrin and family, 10/11/40 - Nelson
Protec sells sprinklers, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting and other products. The Nelson-based operation was built up by electrical engineer Merrin and his business partner Barrie Russell. German firm Bosch Building Technologies bought Protec in 2021 for an undisclosed sum. Merrin and his family owned half of the business prior to the sale – a stake worth at least £80m. Taking account of tax on the deal as well as a good run of dividends should easily put the Merrins at around £90m.
87= Barrie Russell and family, 23/07/47 - Nelson
Barrie Russell founded Nelson-based Protec Fire Alarms in 1968. Dissatisfied with the quality of many models on the market, Russell teamed up with technical expert James Merrin and the pair began manufacturing their own. Protec Fire Detection grew into the largest independent fire detection maker in the UK, branching out into emergency lighting, fire suppression and portable fire extinguishers. Russell and Merrin and their families each owned a 50% stake in Protec until German firm Bosch Building Technologies snapped up the business in 2021. Taking account of tax on the deal as well as a good run of dividends should put the Russells at around £90m.
87= Donald Sidebottom, 11/04/37 - Blackpool
Glasdon Group makes bins, cycle shelters, bollards and a wide range of other street furniture. Sidebottom set up the business in 1959 and the Blackpool-based group now employs more than 500 people across the UK, France, Sweden and the US. Sales climbed to a record £39.6m in 2022. A classic car enthusiast, Sidebottom founded the Lakeland Motor Museum. There are now 30,000 exhibits at the site, including 140 vintage vehicles. Glasdon Group should be worth its £70.2m net assets – up £1.2m on the previous year. A property company and other wealth take Sidebottom to £89m.
90. Gordon Rothwell and family, 19/07/59 - Burnley
James Hargreaves bills itself as the largest independent plumbing supplies merchant in the UK. Rothwell ran the business for 40 years until his retirement earlier this year. His son Jack, 30, is now serving as a director of the Burnley-based company, which is celebrating 100 years of trading. Annual sales exceeded £100m for the first time in 2021. After annual profits of £10.1m, James Hargreaves should be worth around £100m. The Rothwells own at least 89% of the shares.
93= John and David Fairbrother and family, 22/02/61 and 06/07/62 - Preston
Brothers John and David Fairbrother founded Barron Wood at their grandparents’ Lancashire Farm 30 years ago. The pair’s haulage firm initially began by delivering agricultural produce to markets in Yorkshire and southern England. Before long the Preston-based transport group had signed up manufacturers and other clients. It now handles a network of 2,500 vehicles across Europe and handles 200,000 consignments a year. Annual sales climbed by 22% to £85.7m over the past 12 months. Barron Wood, which should be worth £75m, has delivered £15 million of dividends for the Fairbrothers and their family over the past six years.
97. John Stoker and family, 08/04/67 - Ormskirk
Alfred Stoker began his family’s furniture empire by selling fabric and millinery at Ormskirk in 1895. John Stoker is the fourth generation to run the Southport-based operation, which now has 10 stores across the country. Profits rose by nearly 50% to £8.5m on £63.3m sales in 2021-22. The family toasted the year with a £4m dividend. The £80m group owns all of its stores and warehouses outright.
98= David Haythornthwaite, 26/12/53 - Fylde
A boom of pet ownership and the closure of vets surgeries helped increase turnover at VetPlus, which makes supplements for animals, and Farmsense, which provides farmers with nutritional alternatives to antibiotics. Haythornthwaite founded the business, which now has a presence in 36 countries and exports more than a third of its products. Profits and sales at his Fylde-based holding company have fallen since the height of the pandemic, and on that basis his businesses are now worth around £80m. His Tangerine Holdings also encompasses a conference centre, restaurant, bar and AFC Flyde, the local football club.
The rules of engagement
All stakes in quoted companies were valued by taking the share price in the Financial Times in early July 2023. Private company stakes were valued on a par with the nearest equivalent quoted company or failing that by the prevailing prices in the sector. If that was not appropriate, then we simply used a multiple of ten times the profit figure to value a business, reflecting the stock market average. Where it was appropriate, companies and therefore family stakes are valued on the net assets of the business.
To see the full list visit North West Business Insider.