Cool summers and warm winters aren’t particularly helpful to the Andrew Sykes Group, the Wolverhampton-based air conditioning and heating hire firm largely owned by Jacques Gaston Murray.
Nonetheless, the company continues to put in solid performances, and is worth well over £300 million.
In the year to December 2011, revenue fell slightly to £53.8 million from £55.9 million. Pre-tax profit rose to £14.9million from £13.9 million, helped by a £3.1 million boost from property disposal.
Mr Murray puts the company’s relative success in difficult trading conditions down to its policy of reducing its reliance on its traditional core products and services, together with an increase in non-seasonal business and investment in new technically advanced and environmentally friendly products. The business remains strong, with positive net funds of £10.4 million and ability to generate cash
The company has expanded its overseas operations with the opening of its fourth Dutch depot in the north-east of Holland to provide a platform for future expansion.
At 93, Mr Murray shows little sign of slowing down. His other main business is West Yorkshire-based London Security, one of Europe’s leading fire protection businesses, of which he owns 98 per cent.
The family also has five hotels worth £270 million including the 431 bedroom Grand Beach Hotel in Miami Beach.
He has been a British national since just after the Second World War.
He was born in Paris and studied architecture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
He was called up in 1940 and when France surrendered to Germany he made his way to England where he joined the Royal Air Force, flying 38 missions as a navigator and was awarded the French Legion of Honour by his native country.
After the war – during which his father died in Auschwitz - he returned to France, but returned to England to embark on a distinguished business career.
His involvement with fire extinguishers began in 1961 when he invested in a business which became General-Incendie SA, one of France’s largest fire extinguisher companies.
The Andrews Sykes Group was formed in 1857 and has more than 30,000 customers.
As well as these businesses, the Murray family has a property portfolio and other assets.