Most of the Leavesley family wealth comes from property – in particular a hefty stake in Simon Clarke’s St Modwen Group. But Jim Leavesley believes in spreading risk so he has plenty of other interests, including military surplus, salvage and farming.
A recent piece of business for the Leavesley empire – which traces its roots back to the First World War – is the breaking up of HMS Intrepid, a Royal Navy ship which played a major role in the Falklands conflict. It’s the first Royal Navy vessel to be broken up under DEFRA’s new guidelines on recycling. Some 95 per cent of the ship is to be recycled.
The Burton-based Leavesley Group has been buying and selling military surplus for many years. The company was started by Jim Leavesley’s father James Thomas Leavesley in 1919. Now it lists the United Nations, the UK Defence Export Services Organisation and the Swedish Armed Forces among its clients.
The group is involved in many other activities, including container hire and retail sales of workshop equipment, tools and furniture.
Two divisions of the group – Branston Investments and St Mary’s Investments – are involved in property management, and have a significant portfolio of commercial properties and industrial parks throughout the UK. In addition Genesis Quality Assurance and Integra carry out compliance audits for the agriculture and food industries. The Leavesley family stake in the St Modwen property business is worth around than £100 million. In addition, Jim Leavesley has sold a shareholding in Dunstall-based Northern Racing which owns several racecourses around the country.
Jim Leavesley, who is 78, and is chairman of the Leavesley Group, is also a pig farmer.