The second generation is in charge at Richardsons Capital. The company founded by the Black Country’s most famous twins – Roy and the late Don Richardson is now looked after by Lee, Carl and Martyn Richardson.
And they believe in taking the company global. The Oldbury-based developer has just opened another retail outlet in mainland Europe, and now has developments across 10 European countries.
The latest to open its doors is in Salzburg in Austria. It’s the second project in Austria developed between Richardsons and McArthur Glen. The mall, close to Salzburg city centre and the airport, has been designed along the lines of a 1920s shopping arcade with an interior mall and circular galleries. Stores in the 300,000 sq ft mall include Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein and La Perla.
Business leaders from all over the UK turned out in their hundreds to pay their respects to Don Richardson who died in September 2007, aged 77. His death brought to an end the legendary partnership of Don and his younger twin Roy Richardson who founded the hugely successful Richardson Group of companies.
Despite expansion across the world, the Richardson twins will be best remembered for one of their earliest and biggest regeneration developments on their own doorstep – the transformation of the 300 acre former Round Oak Steelworks into the Merry Hill Shopping Centre. This development is one of the biggest retail centres in Europe and has just celebrated its 20th anniversary.
And Roy Richardson continues to believe that a key component in Merry Hill’s success has been its 10,000 free parking spaces. Current owner Westfield has raised the spectre of charging for parking, but Roy Richardson believes that would be a mistake.
European activities alone – Richardsons is active in Italy, Holland, Germany, Austria and Hungary to name but a few – add up to an impressive property portfolio. However, the main Richardson company – Swiftfire – has been affected by the downturn in property values and has seen a sharp fall in profits.
The company is well-placed for the recovery though and is expanding into North America with a £50 million joint venture deal with locally-based Carillion Plc to develop prime sites in the fast expanding Greater Toronto area of Canada.
The company has also taken a 50 per cent stake in a £600 million new town project which will resurrect the site of Scotland’s iconic Ravenscraig steelworks. Another Scottish development – in association with Carillion – is a retail park on the site of the former truck plant in Bathgate.
Locally, Richardsons is investing in a £75 million shopping development in Worcester and has received planning permission for a 275-home development in Castle Donnington.
The company is also adding its support to the community, being a sponsor of the city academy initiative in Birmingham to transform Kings Norton High School into an academic college.
The family also has significant interests in other property and non-property related businesses.