2018: No.6 - £1.2bn
2017: No.5 - £1.1bn
At 98, Jacques Gaston Murray is the oldest person in our list by quite a few years, but he still takes an active interest in his Wolverhampton air conditioning and heating firm, despite now being resident in Switzerland.
One of his two main businesses is the Wolverhampton-based AIM-listed Andrew Sykes Group, supplying industrial heating and air conditioning. The group began life as Sykes in 1857 and has well over 30,000 customers, employing more than 300 people in the UK from 30 sites from Scotland to Devon.
The business has been celebrating its 160th anniversary with a series of events around the country, and has commissioned a specially-designed logo. It certainly has something to celebrate, with revenue rising by £5 million to £35.3 for the first half of the year with pre-tax profits rising from £7.5 million to £8.1 million.
His other business is Leeds-based London Security plc, one of Europe’s leading fire protection businesses, of which he owns 98 per cent. The company provides fire protection for around 222,000 customers in the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, France, Germany and Luxembourg. It includes Nu-Swift International Ltd which was founded in 1933 and manufactures, sells and services fire extinguishers.
The family – including his two sons Jean-Jacques and Jean-Pierre, also has six hotels worth more than £320 million including the 431 bedroom Grand Beach Hotel in Miami Beach.
He has been a British national since just after the Second World War, during which he served in the French army. He studied architecture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts when he was called up in 1940. When France surrendered to Germany he made his way to England where he joined the Royal Air Force, flying 38 missions as a navigator. He was awarded the French Legion of Honour.
After the war – during which his father died in Auschwitz - he returned to France, but came back 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.
As well as these businesses, the Murray family has a property portfolio and other assets.