Several leading retailers feature prominently on this year’s Sunday Times Rich List, published by the newspaper yesterday.
The annual wealth estimator for the whole of the UK shows that Galen & George Weston, owners of Primark, are the highest ranking retailers at number nine, with their fortune topping £6 billion - up £1.5 billion on last year.
Sir Philip Green and Lady Green, owners of the Bhs and Arcadia businesses, are the 13th richest people in the country with their estimated wealth growing £95 million in the year to £4.2 billion, of which £3 billion is attributed to their retail assets.
One of the fastest risers this year was property owner John Whittaker, who doubled his fortune to £2.08 billion with the sale of the Trafford Centre in Manchester (which his Peel Group previously owned) to Capital Shopping Centres in January.
Other prominent retail owners making it into the top 100 included Harrods’ Mohamed al-Fayed and Matalan owner John Hargreaves, both joint 46th with an estimated £1.3 billion each, Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley (52nd) who is thought to be worth £1.27 billion, and £1.15 billion River Island owner Bernard Lewis (56th).
A couple of members of the retail aristocracy also featured in the top 100, with Sir Ken Morrison (64th) and Lord Sainsbury’s (75th) having minority stakes in the respective supermarkets that bear their family names to thank for their high placings.
India-born steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal tops the overall list for the seventh year in a row, with an estimated wealth of over £17.5 billion, despite seeing the largest fall in wealth of any individual (down 22 per cent) thanks to his support of charities and property investments.
Overall charitable contributions from those in the top 100 were down £818 million from last year however and these individuals represent over half of the wealth of the 1,000 wealthiest people in the UK, as the division between the very richest and the rest appears to be getting larger.