The hard grafting Yorkshire entrepreneurs who are stars of The Sunday Times rich list

THE BILLIONAIRE founder of a major duty free retailer is the richest person in Yorkshire, according to the new edition of The Sunday Times Rich List.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 10 May, 2019, 03:43
Philip Meeson appears on The Sunday Times Rich List. Picture By Simon Hulme

Robert Miller retains his position as the richest person in Yorkshire, after a £200m increase in wealth secured his top ranking with a £2.2bn fortune.

The Massachusetts-born entrepreneur holds a 38.75 per cent stake in Duty Free Shoppers (DFS), the chain he co-founded in 1960. Based in Hong Kong, DFS has 420 outlets specialising in airport and luxury outlets. Mr Miller has a London home and the 36,000-acre Gunnerside shooting estate in North Yorkshire.

Brothers Eddie and Malcolm Healey remain second in the Yorkshire rich list with a combined fortune of £1.648bn, up £48m on last year. Alongside his East Yorkshire estate, Malcolm owns Wren Kitchens and Lincolnshire based Ebuyer, an online electronics retailer. Combined profts from these operations rose to £17.7m in 2017, a 48 per cent increase. Eddie, 81, also enjoyed a successful year, his main SPH2011 operation showing net assets of £389.4m, up £7.6m on the previous year.

Robert Watts, the compiler of The Sunday Times Rich List, said: “This list shows the hard-grafting Yorkshire entrepreneur is very much alive and well.

“Their number includes a former tyre-fitter, a one-time coal miner and several people who left school with barely a qualification to their name.

“Starting and growing your own business is rarely easy, especially amid the current political deadlock in Westminster and turbulence on the stock market. But these individuals and families show what imagination, determination and a sprinkle of Yorkshire grit can achieve.”

Tony Murray, the ex-RAF pilot and Anglo-French entrepreneur, is ranked third in Yorkshire. He is due to celebrate his 100th birthday next February. The oldest person in the Rich List, Mr Murray continues as chairman of the Wolverhampton-based Andrew Sykes Group, an operation hiring out air conditioning and heating equipment with a worth of £242.5m. Alongside a £400m hotel empire, Mr Murray’s London Security fire protection business, based in Elland, West Yorkshire, showed profits of £21.6m in 2017, registering net assets of £103.4m. His sons, Jean-Jacques, 51, and Jean-Pierre, 53, are also involved in the business.

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The Morrisons’ supermarket fortune makes a return to the Rich List in 2019. New to the list are William Morrison, 43, and Eleanor Kerninghan, 45, children of the late Sir Ken Morrison who built the £5.38bn Morrisons chain.

The so-called ‘King of the Tills’ left an estate worth £235m, and from opening its first store in 1961, Morrisons today works with Amazon, enlisting the help of the retail giant to sell produce online in an increasingly digital grocery market. There have been over £500m of share sales in previous years, and both William and Eleanor, ranked sixth in the list, are directors of various Leeds-based trusts that retain stakes in the company. William also owns Murton Grange, a York-based farming group reporting assets of nearly £3.5m.

Leeds-based business Dart Group reported profits of £130.6m in 2017, raising Phillip Meeson, ranked eighth, by £94m. Mr Meeson,71, founded the business which operates airline Jet2.com, flying to 70 destinations, and Jet2holidays, the UK’s second-largest tour operator. Originally a car dealer, Mr Meeson’s company flew 10.3m passengers in 2017-18, an increase of 3.2m from the year before.

The soon-to-be former owner of Huddersfield Town Dean Hoyle reports the only fall in this year’s Yorkshire Rich List top 20.

The Hoyle family wealth has dropped by £7m from last year to a total of £283m, according to The Sunday Times. Mr Hoyle, 52, and wife Janet, 51, founded the Card Factory before selling it for £350m.

He turned his sights to football in 2009, taking over Huddersfield Town. Under his stewardship, The Terriers gained promotion to the Premier League. The Hoyles are ranked at joint 16th in the Yorkshire rich list.

Dean and Janet Hoyle were 13th on last year’s list.