Politicians and economists are wringing their hands in a largely unsuccessful search for that elusive growth in the economy.
Well they should look no further for advice than the 50 richest Midlanders for whom growth doesn’t seem to be a problem.
While the chattering classes are fretting about double dips and triple dips, our top 50 wealth-makers have seen their 2012 fortunes grow in truly Olympian style. And we now have five billionaires at the top of our list.
The last year has seen the previous Birmingham Post Rich List total wealth figure shattered by a staggering £3.46 billion.
The 50 wealthiest Midlanders have, between them, amassed a record-breaking £28.531 billion, beating last year’s record of £25.073 billion.
The millions that were wiped off personal fortunes in the recession have been retrieved, and some. For the second year running, the price of entry into our Rich List has rocketed by £10 million to £95 million.
The four billionaires who topped our list last year have all retained their places. But they have been joined by Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner who makes it into our billionaires’ club after the sale of his Cleveland Browns American football team franchise.
Many on our list have made their money through property – either building it or investing in it. While their fortunes are recovering slowly and steadily, the real winners are from the manufacturing sector and, surprisingly, retail.
Reading the headlines over the last year, you may have been left with the impression that there is carnage on the High Street, with household name after household name disappearing into the dust of administration.
But the retailers on our list, particularly those in food and fashion, are doing very nicely thank you, proving that the right product at the right price in the right place will always find a willing buyer.
Among the biggest winners this year are the Boparan Singhs, whose 2 Sisters food group has, by a mixture of growth and acquisition, made spectacular strides.
Sir David Samworth, guardian of Ginsters pasties and Melton Mowbray pork pies has also been propelled up our list through increased sales.
Woon Wing Yip increases his fortune with the expansion of his niche range of Oriental foods, while food and drink distribution has brought Raj Chatha of Walsall-based EFB into the lost for the first time.
Success in the fashion business has cemented Studley-born James Holder of the clothing brand Superdry into our list, as well as Sir Paul Smith.
Even Robbie Williams, whose fortune largely comes from his music, has launched a fashion label – Farrell – named after his grandfather.
Manufacturing gets a boost from Sir Anthony Bamford, whose JCB has recovered spectacularly from the lows of a few years ago and is enjoying phenomenal worldwide growth. John Bloor’s Triumph motorbikes and Lord Paul’s Caparo Group are also making strides in the right direction.
Staffordshire continues to dominate the top positions in our list (come on, Warwickshire and Worcestershire – where are you?). The number one slot is held once again by Staffordshire songwriter, jewellery designer and former beauty queen from Stone, Kirsty Bertarelli.
Her husband’s pharmaceutical fortune continues to grow, while Sir Anthony Bamford and phones magnate John Caudwell come in at numbers two and three.
Property and construction are gradually improving, with Tony Gallagher, Steve Morgan, Charles Clowes, Simon Clarke and David Wilson all returning to growth. If the Government sticks to its promise of accelerating infrastructure projects, they could be doing even better in the not too distant future.
The entertainment sector continues to make a contribution to the list, with the city’s favourite rocker Ozzy Osbourne maintaining his fortune and Robbie Williams seeing his bank account growing again after another successful album and the revenue from a spectacular tour with Take That.
Stoke City owner Peter Coates is never going to make his fortune from the football club, so its just as well he and his family own the stratospherically successful Bet365 online gaming business which has put nearly another £100 million into their bank accounts. Sporting interests are also represented by Randy Lerner, Steve Morgan and Sir Jack Hayward.
Charitable giving and philanthropy feature prominently in our list. Our richest-of-the-rich still give a sizeable chunk of their fortunes to charities and good causes, almost without exception.
Lord Edmiston still tops the philanthropy league but many others on the list give large amounts of money and time to charitable causes.
The work done by John Caudwell’s charity, Caudwell Children, is worthy of mention, as is Robbie Williams’ support for UNICEF as well as local charities.
A brief word about the rules of engagement for the Birmingham Post Rich List:
In assessing who goes into the list and who stays out there is inevitably some subjectivity involved, and we can only work from publicly available information.
We looked at the personal wealth, property interests, shareholdings, company valuations, asset valuations, liabilities, and other known wealth of people who either live and/or work in the Midlands, or who have major business interests in the region or have spent most of their lives here.
We took longevity and commitment to the Midlands into account.
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The Birmingham Post Rich List 2013