The Essex Life Richest 50
PUBLISHED: 12:29 27 October 2015 | UPDATED: 12:29 27 October 2015
With the help of top financial journalist and author of the Sunday Times Rich List, Philip Beresford, Essex Life shares with you a glimpse into the lives of the county’s wealthiest people
Lord Alan Sugar
Star of the BBC’s Apprentice, Lord Sugar is shrewdly riding the London property market. In June he sold Burberry’s old flagship store on London’s Haymarket for £65m to a wealthy Qatari investor, netting a healthy profit for his Amsprop group. He bought it empty from an unknown Russian for £31.5m two years ago. In 2014 he emerged as the buyer of a £23.3m building near the Old Street roundabout, regarded as the centre of a tech hub in London. Late last year he spent around £20m on three properties in the same area through his Amsprop business. Sugar, showing all the skill he demands of his Apprentices, has generated higher returns in the buildings it has bought, with rents rising from £20 a square foot to above £40 in recent lettings. He is also a canny seller and in May 2013, sold a Mayfair office block for almost £50m more than he bought it for just five years ago. Sugar’s other property operation, Amshold, saw its net assets soar by over £100m to £552m in 2013-14. A Hackney tailor’s son, Sugar started his Amstrad consumer electronics operation in 1968. Following its £125m sale of Amstrad in 2007, his business activity is largely concentrated in the property field. Sugar should have received around £36m for his Amstrad stake and after chairing premiership club Tottenham Hotspur from 1991 to 2001, he picked up at least £25m for his stake. Sugar has at least £700m worth of property. With £150m of cash and other personal property assets, the rising Amshold net assets and the recent £50m property profit take Sugar to £1.04bn.
Mark Dixon’s Regus is the world’s largest provider of flexible workspaces and serviced offices. Essex-born Dixon, the son of a Ford car mechanic, began his entrepreneurial career selling peat from a wheelbarrow. He went to Rainsford Comprehensive School, leaving at 16. He set up a sandwich business Dial-A-Snack in 1976, which failed to make his fortune, so he travelled the world, working his passage around Europe, Asia and Australia, from iron mining to bar work. Dixon returned to his native Essex and invested £600 in a burger van on London’s North Circular Road. With the proceeds, along with his savings, he bought other vans but struggled to get enough bread rolls for the business – so he set up his own bread company supplying fast-food vendors, which he sold in 1988 for £800,000. Having relocated to Brussels he noticed how business people held meetings in cafes. So in 1989, he was inspired to set up Regus, providing offices with social and meeting spaces. The concept worked and he floated the company in 2000. It is now valued at a record £2.74bn. Founder Dixon has an £894m stake in the Luxembourg-based operation. Nearly £100m of share sales and other assets including the Chateau de Berne vineyard in Provence and a five-star 25-room hotel should take him to £1020m.
Property and football
West Ham United co-owner David Sullivan is looking to make money off the pitch with the sale of a prime Oxford Street building. His investment vehicle is seeking more than £55m for Russell & Bromley’s flagship shop close to Bond Street underground station. The property currently brings in rent of £1.325m per annum. The whole building is held on a long leasehold from the Grosvenor Estate for a term of 150 years from June 24, 2006 (141 years unexpired) and the next rent review is in 2018 which coincides with the date Crossrail is scheduled to become operational. Landlords near Crossrail stations are banking on big rental hikes as footfall and the public realm improves further. Conegate made £14.7m profit on £23.4m turnover in 2013 when its net assets came in at £119m. It has an impressive property portfolio worth close to £300m. In 2007 he spent £36 million acquiring a part of Bath city centre and he has other prestigious assets. It turns over more than £15 million a year and is consistently profitable. But Essex-based Sullivan will be delighted with the way the Hammers returned to top flight football for 2012-13 after just a year away. Sullivan has a 51% stake in the club which could be worth up to £400m after its forthcoming move to the Olympic Stadium. Roldvale, his main company, made a £609,000 profit in 2013. Sullivan’s dividends and salaries there in recent years total nearly £60m. Asset sales such as the £50m from Sports Newspapers in 2007, a £100m pension pot and £160m of recent property deals underpin Sullivan’s £850m fortune.
To read the full list of the Essex Life Rishest 50, pick up a copy of the November issue of Essex Life magazine.