Kirsty Bertarelli, a former Miss UK from Stone in Staffordshire, heads this year’s Birmingham Post Rich List of the Midlands’ 50 wealthiest people with a family fortune estimated at £5.5billion.
The former Kirsty Roper, whose father and two uncles control the Churchill China pottery business in Stoke-on-Trent, is married to Swiss-Italian billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli, a biotechnology tycoon rated the world’s 27th richest man.
Ms Bertarelli is a designer of fashion clothing and jewellery and works for the Swiss charity Smiling Children.
Her arrival in the Rich List means industrialist Sir Anthony Bamford, also with Staffordshire connections, is relegated to second place with an estimated family fortune of £1.8billion, up from £1.2billion in 2008.
Sir Anthony took over the running of the JCB business at Rocester, near Uttoxeter, from his father, the late Joseph Cyril Bamford.
His wealth is calculated on the basis of record profits of £187million and a record annual turnover of £2.25billion.
Since then, however, JCB, with every other manufacturer, has seen orders fall and predicted a 20 per cent fall in production levels this financial year.
Still in Staffordshire, former Rich List winner John Caudwell, the mobile phones magnate from Stoke, is in third place this year with £1.65billion.
Mr Caudwell, who is said to pay international artists millions of pounds a time to sing at his charity bashes, devotes much of his time now to fund raising since the Caudwell Group, which included Phones4U, was sold to a private equity group for £1.46billion in 2006.
Another manufacturer, Lord Paul, whose Black Country-based Caparo Group is a major supplier of car body parts, moves down two places to fourth this year with £1.5billion.
The Rich List this year includes five new entrants. As well as Kirsty Bertarelli, making their debuts are Steve Morgan (in 20th place with £400million), the owner of Wolverhampton Wanderers, David Samworth (21st with £390million) whose company owns the famous Ginsters brand of Cornish pasties, Jonathan Kendrick (22nd with £385million) who runs the ROK mobile phone entertainment business and Esmond Bulmer (47th with £85million) of the Herefordshire cider family.
Two significant trends emerge from this year’s report, says compiler Ian Strachan.
First is the erosion of wealth among individuals who make their money from residential property.
“The downturn in property values has clearly had an impact and some fortunes have slipped, or at best remained static,” Strachan says in his introduction to the report.
“Some in the property world – particularly residential property – have fallen off the list altogether.
“Those who have preserved their positions are the ones who disposed of property while values were still high or who kept their cash in the bank and resisted the temptation to splash out on deteriorating assets.”
Second is the comparatively high concentration of wealth in Staffordshire, a county described by Strachan as “sandwiched between bustling Birmingham and the industrious Black Country to the south and the beautiful Derbyshire peaks and the moneyed WAG-land of Cheshire to the north”.
The Birmingham Post Rich List 2009