Who’s the top 50 richest in Essex?

PUBLISHED: 12:08 05 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:14 23 June 2020

The Essex Life Rich List sponsored by BTMK Solicitors

The Essex Life Rich List sponsored by BTMK Solicitors


Finance expert and author of the Sunday Times Rich List, Rob Watts, picks out the high performers of our county to showcase the wealthiest individuals who are worthy of a place in the Essex Life Richest 50

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Rules of Engagement

To qualify for the Essex Life Richest 50 an individual must either work, live or be born in the area or have a substantial presence in the county.

Their wealth is assessed on land holdings, shares in quoted or private companies and any sale proceeds from company sales. Quoted company stakes were valued in late August 2019.

Private companies are generally valued at about ten times their latest profit figures, depending on the financial health of the operation.

We have no access to detailed personal financial records, such as bank accounts or the like, so make no allowance for these.


1) Jon Hunt

INDUSTRY: Agency and Property

2018: £1.25BN (2nd) 2019: £1.4BN

Jon Hunt has lost none of his touch for earning a fast buck from the London property market. Last December the Colchester¬born founder of the estate agency chain Foxtons sold his Cannon Green block in the City of London for £120m. That's quite a return, considering he snapped up the 12¬story building four years earlier for £29m, and spent £25m on renovations.

Hunt is already pressing on with his next project, a 145¬room hotel in East London's trendy tech Mecca of Shoreditch. Born into an Army family, Hunt won a scholarship to Millfield boarding school for his tennis, rugby and swimming prowess. He left after O Levels to join the Army, passing basic training for the Royal Artillery, where his father had been a colonel. After leaving the military and following a short spell washing cars in Ottawa, Canada, Hunt spent the next eight years working as an estate agent in Surrey.

In 1981 Hunt, then 28, co¬founded Foxtons. The company took its name from a village near Hunt's Suffolk home. The firm's office in London's Notting Hill Gate neighbourhood distinguished itself from competing estate agents by opening a then¬unusual 74 hours a week, including at weekends and in the evening. Hunt sold Foxtons at the height of the boom for £375m in early 2007.

After the deal, he made substantial commercial property investments in Central London at the bottom of the market. As well as commercial property, Hunt has been active in residential development in Central London. He turned down an unsolicited offer for his seven¬storey townhouse in Kensington Palace Gardens in 2008, reputedly for £200m.

His other assets include a car collection and the Suffolk estate Heveningham Hall. This has been turned into a luxury holiday resort, with the grounds restored to their original Capability Brown¬design splendour. He also has Wilderness Reserve, a luxurious 5,000¬acre expanse nearby which offers a portfolio of top¬end holiday homes for up to £1,900 a night. The latest valuation of Hunt's vast property empire takes him to £1.4bn.


2) Mark Dixon

INDUSTRY: Property

2018: £885M (4th) 2019: £1.339BN

Mark Dixon is back in the billionaire club - and how. Shares in his serviced office giant IWG, previously known as Regus, have soared over the past year and now value the operation at £3.64bn. That means Dixon's 27.2% stake is now worth £990m - up £439m on a year ago.

He should also have picked up £14.6m of dividends since last year. The son of a Ford car mechanic, Dixon began his entrepreneurial career selling peat from a wheelbarrow while still at school. He went to Rainsford Comprehensive, leaving at 16 and soon set up a sandwich business Dial¬A¬Snack in 1976.

When this failed he travelled the world, working his way around Europe, Asia and Australia with odd jobs ranging from iron mining to bar work. Dixon later 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. He sold this in 1988 for £800,000.

Having relocated to Brussels he noticed how business executives held meetings in cafes. So in 1989 he was inspired to set up Regus, providing offices with social and meeting spaces. It worked and he floated the company in 2000. Dixon sold shares worth nearly £102m in September 2016 and a further £94m worth in June 2017. Previous share sales add around £100m.

He has received nearly £165m of dividends since 2008. His other assets include the Chateau de Berne vineyard in Provence and a five¬star, 25¬room hotel. All this now takes Dixon to £1.339m. And he's not done yet. He is currently planning floating the part of his IWG empire based in the States on the US stock market.


3) Lord Alan Sugar

INDUSTRY: Property

2018: £1.3BN (1st) 2019: £1.21BN

A former Labour party supporter, Lord Alan Sugar has vowed to leave the country if Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister. The trenchant tycoon believes he will not be the only business leader to quit the UK if the leader of opposition enters Downing Street and hikes taxes. Mr Corbyn isn't his only bete noire at the moment.

He has also seethed publicly that he has yet to be honoured by Bafta for his role on The Apprentice. When no award was forthcoming, Chigwell¬based Sugar had six fake versions of the prestigious awards made, presenting one to his Apprentice co¬star Karren Brady. If Sugar is sounding particularly sore at the moment, he has some cause. His London property investments have not had a good year. In 2017¬18 his main holding company Amshold made a £40.2m loss and showed £535.1m of net assets, down £32.8m in 12 months.

He sold the upper part of his Crosspoint tower block at a loss and revaluations amid a grim year for London property have dented his wealth. There were some golden deals in the past. He famously bought Burberry's old flagship stores on London's Haymarket for £31.5m, 'flipping' it to Qatari investors who paid £65m two years later. He had earlier made £50m from turning around a Mayfair tower block in five years.

And yet to many people this son of a Hackney tailor is only known for the Amstrad consumer electronics operation he founded in his early 20s. Sugar should have made around £36m personally from the £125m sale of Amstrad in 2007 and after chairing Tottenham Hotspur from 1991 to 2001, he picked up at least £25m for his stake there, too. We now value his businesses empire at £1bn and add at least £210m for cash and other personal property assets.


4) David Sullivan & Family

INDUSTRY: Property

2018: £1.1BN (3rd) 2019: £1.15BN

The next generation of the Sullivan dynasty is getting a taste for football and business. Last year, at the age of 19, Jack Sullivan became full¬time managing director of West Ham's women's team. His father David Sullivan co¬owns the club with David Gold and has not been afraid to thrust his boy into the limelight.

Sullivan senior owns a 51% stake in West Ham, which now play at the former London Olympic Stadium from the 2012 games. He made most of his early money from pornography, sex shops and erotic films. At one point during the 1970s he was said to oversee half of the UK's adult magazine titles. The Cardiff¬born magnate has more recently shown himself to be an artful property investor.

The assets of his largest property company, Conegate, grew by £17m to £188.4m in 2016¬17. Assets in a second operation, Rickleford, rose by £5m to £172m in the same year. Football clubs are notoriously difficult to value, but we still value Sullivan's West Ham stake at around £325m as the owners turned down an offer of £650m in 2016. His 10¬figure fortune also consists of £50m from the sale of Sports Newspapers in 2007, a £100m pension pot and £160m of property deals. He once showed off his £7.5m Chigwell home to Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford for their Channel 5 programme How The Other Half Live.

The 14¬bedroom Essex mansion features two swimming pools, a bowling alley and a number of fake servants made of silicone. We now raise Sullivan to £1.15bn.


5) Vijay and Bhiku Patel

INDUSTRY: Pharmaceuticals

2018: £800M (6th) 2019: £810M

The Vijay Patel Building at Leicester's De Montfort University has won a string of architectural prizes. The £42m project is the centrepiece of the university's campus and was paid for by the single biggest donation in the institution's history.

Vijay Patel, a graduate of the university's School of Pharmacy, and his brother, Bikhu, arrived in Britain in the 1960s with just £5 and a handful of O Levels. Vijay saved to go to pharmacy college by working in a chip shop in Wembley and Bhikhu trained as an architect before joining Vijay in business in 1984, a few years after Vijay established Basildon¬based Waymade to distribute and market pharmaceutical products and prescription medicines. Last year Bikhu pledged £1m to Bristol University's Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus.

In 2002 the brother spun out Amdipharm, which picked up treatments that were out of patent and held no special value for their multinational drug firm owners. Ten years later they sold the business for £367m, retaining a £90m shareholding. Another Patel company, Atnahs Pharma, set up in 2013, saw its underlying profits rise slightly to £78.8m on higher sales of £118.1m in 2017¬18. The brothers made a substantial sum from the 2015 sale of AMCO, a niche pharma company, for £2.3bn.

We raise the Patels to £810m this year. The Patels have faced public criticism for hiking the prices of some drugs bought by the NHS, with the cost of one steroid growing by 12,500% to £85 a packet. Nevertheless, Vijay Patel received an OBE in the 2019 New Year's Honours for 'services to business and philanthropy'.


6) Sir Charles Dunstone

INDUSTRY: Mobile Phones

2018: £876M (5th) 2019: £740M

Saffron Walden¬born Charles Dunstone founded Carphone Warehouse from his London flat. Acton¬based Carphone merged with Dixons to create Dixons Carphone, which has struggled on the stock market in recent times. He still owns nearly 10% of the shares - a stake currently worth £127m, down £82m on last year.

His stake should have yielded around £12m in dividends in 2017¬18. Dunstone's shares in TalkTalk, the mobile network that floated in 2010, have also continued to lose value. This holding is now worth £333m − £74m less than a year ago.

But there should have been £20.3m of TalkTalk dividends, too. Dunstone chairs TalkTalk, but still finds time to keep on top of a portfolio of other business interests including his Five Guys burger chain and the MOD pizza outfit. Dunstone also owns 10% of Boxpark, the collection of fast¬food markets. But those chunky dividends cannot offset the falling value of his shares and so Dunstone falls to £740m this year.


7) Sir Jack Petchey

INDUSTRY: Property

2018: £550M (7th) 2019: £500M

Sir Jack Petchey has built a hefty property empire through his Petchey Holdings, with a portfolio of commercial buildings worth more than £450m. A champion of hard work and self¬belief, he was prosecuted at the age of 12 for working under age. Not everyone saw Sir Jack's promise in his early years.

He was turned down for officer training during World War II. Then after the war, while working as a clerk at the Solicitor's Law Stationary Society, he was rejected for management training and told he would never make a businessman. He later used his £39 Navy gratuity to buy his first taxi. After building up a fleet of taxis, he moved on to selling used cars and from there into property.

In 2006 and 2007, Essex¬based Petchey sold around £225m of stakes in six companies. Further sales in 2013 netted him over £50m. He plans to give the bulk of his fortune to charity through his foundation, which donates £9m annually to help support youth projects in London and the south east of England.

The fund has given away more than £124m over the years. With such extensive philanthropy and a portfolio worth less than it was, we now lower Petchey to £500m. He was knighted in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to young people in East London and Essex. He married the royal sculptress, Frances Segelman, a year later.


8) The Ives Family

INDUSTRY: Industry

2018: £388M (9th) 2019: £400M

Rainham Steel founder Bill Ives left behind a sturdy business when he died in August 2017. He had set up the operation in 1973 after turning his back on a successful boxing career. He won the ABA heavyweight title in 1966, 1967 and 1968. Ives' business career proved more fruitful.

He became one of the country's leading suppliers of steel products to builders and builders' merchants. Turnover at Rainham Steel rose to £114.5m during 2017¬18. High directors' salaries have always depressed profits and masked the high value of the business, which we believe is easily still worth £250m.

Large investments including property assets take the Ives family to £400m. In his youth Ives worked as a bouncer at Esmeralda's Barn, a London nightclub owned by the Kray twins.


9) Mark Burnett and Roma Downey


2018: £390M (8th) 2019: £394M

Wild fires nearly engulfed Mark Burnett and Roma Downey's Malibu home in January 2019 and Downey has described recent times as 'challenging', with the death of her brother and an unseemly scuffle between her husband and the comedian Tom Arnold, said to be over allegations of unreleased recordings of Donald Trump from The Apprentice.

Burnett, widely considered to be the US's king of reality TV, showed up in Hollywood more than 30 years ago with just $200 to his name. Educated at the Warren School in Romford, he served as a soldier and fought in the 1982 Falklands conflict. Over the years the former paratrooper has dreamt up reality TV hits including Survivor, Shark Tank and The Voice. He and his Irish wife Downey are the driving force behind The Bible and other faith¬based programmes.

Hollywood studio MGM spent $343m in September 2015 on taking a 55% stake in their TV production company. A few months later the pair exchanged their remaining stake for 1.3m MGM shares.

That stake should now be worth around £98.3m − up around £4m on a year ago. In December 2015 Burnett signed a five¬year contract to become president of MGM Television, while Downey became chief content officer of the faith and family division. Downey also has a leading role in The Baxters, a family drama based on the best¬selling novels of Karen Kingsbury. We raise the couple to £394m this year.


10) David and Victoria Beckham

INDUSTRY: Fashion and Football

2018: £340M (10th) 2019: £355M

Kent & Curwen, the fashion label co¬owned by David Beckham, is to release a collection inspired by Peaky Blinders, although the flat caps in Becks' range will presumably not conceal razor blades as they do in the Brummy gangster screen saga.

Since walking off the football field the former England captain has earned well from an array of advertising deals and endorsements for Pepsi, Samsung, H&M, Haig, adidas and other top brands. These deals have been cannily structured to ensure that he gets a cut of rising sales rather than just a flat fee. Meanwhile, Beckham's US football team, Club Internacional de Futbol Miami, is set to make its debut next year.

His wife Victoria continues to run her fashion label. The financial statements still do not make for pretty reading, showing a loss of £10.3m in 2017. However, a £30m private equity investment by David Belhassen, the man who financed the growth of the patisserie chain Paul, valued Victoria's fashion label at £100m.

Footwork Productions, David's main company, paid a dividend of £5.8m in 2017 plus another £1.1m soon after. The separate Beckham Brand Holdings showed a divided of £18.8m in the same year. Those chunky dividends lead us to raise the golden couple to £355m this year. Certainly a sum that left Victoria little need to join the recent Spice Girls reunion tour, at which she famously declined to perform.


11) Stephen Conway and Family

INDUSTRY: Property

2018: £300M (12th) 2019: £338M

Stephen Conway's Galliard Homes is redeveloping Wimbledon's former greyhound stadium, building 600 homes and a new football ground. He co¬founded the Loughton¬based firm in 1992 and since then the firm has become London's largest privately¬owned developer.

An East Ender by birth, Conway left school in 1964 aged 16, and spent time working in a bank and running a market stall at weekends while in his 20s. In 1969, he began his career in industrial finance, working for the First National Finance Corporation before being poached to run a small property¬lending bank until 1974. Then followed the worst property and banking crash of the century.

After time with another property business, Conway co¬founded his own enterprise in 1991. Galliard's turnover and profits fell in 2017¬18, but Conway writes in the group's accounts that viewing this as a 'decline in performance' would be 'entirely erroneous'.

Galliard still made a £46.5m profit on £295.6m sales in 2017¬18. Net assets on the balance sheet have soared to almost £239.6m, an increase of nearly £37.1m in 12 months. We now value the company at £450m. Conway and his sons own more than 75% of the operation, a stake worth nearly £338m.


12) Ray O'Rourke and Family

INDUSTRY: Construction

2018: £313M (11th) 2019: £337M

Civil engineer O'Rourke and his brother Des left their home in Ireland's County Mayo to find work in England in the mid¬1960s. The pair started their building firm in 1978, growing turnover of £5bn across operations in Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia in just over 30 years.

Renamed Laing O'Rourke in 2001 when it acquired the construction division of John Laing, the operation has put together a wide array of buildings, ranging from the London Olympic Stadium to luxury apartments at the city's One Hyde Park. The past few years have not been easy for the Essex¬based business.

The main business made a pre¬tax loss of £25.2m in 2017¬18. However, we see £307.4m of assets in O'Rourke Investments Holdings (UK) (up £24.8m) and value the business on that figure. We assume the O'Rourke family is the ultimate owner of the operation, adding over £30m for other assets and past salaries.


13) Andy Hill and Family

INDUSTRY: Housebuilding

2018: £244M (16th) 2019: £290M

Andy Hill's Waltham Abbey¬based housebuilder completed 1,550 homes across Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire, Norfolk, Essex and West Sussex during 2018 − 150 more than in the previous year.

He set up the business 20 years ago and still serves as chief executive. Turnover rose by more than 20% to £501.5m in 2017¬18, with net assets rising to £163.2m − up £34.8m in a year. Although profits were flat, we raise the value of the business to £350m. Hill and his family own 78.56%, a stake worth nearly £275m.

A separate property company called Gunpowder Mill Developments, dividends and other wealth add £15m. This takes Hill and his family to £290m.


14) Alfie Best and Family

INDUSTRY: Caravan Parks

2018: £250M (13th) 2019: £285M

Earlier this year Alfie Best took delivery of a £3.6m seven¬seater helicopter and £1.2m Mercedes pick¬up. His car collection already included a £2.7m Bugatti Chiron and a Rolls¬Royce Dawn.

A proud Romany gypsy, Best has made his money from building up a collection of 75 mobile home parks under the Wykecrest Parks brand. He has also begun putting together a similar chain in the United States and buying property in Barbados.

Best's main company, Rainham¬based Best Holdings, showed £143.5m net assets in 2016¬17 − up more than £100m in a year. His holiday parks are worth £285m and have borrowings of less than £30m. We now raise Best to £285m, a figure that includes his personal property assets.


15) Gordon Sanders and Family

INDUSTRY: Care Homes

2018: £250M (13th) 2019: £253M

Runwood Homes provides nursing and residential care across 72 care sites in Essex, the Midlands and Northern Ireland. Gordon Saunders bought the business for £60,000 in 1988 after a successful property development career.

The Hadleigh¬based operation saw profits fall by around 73% to £4.6m in 2017¬18, but this was largely due to directors' remuneration of £20.1m during the year. This spike was largely accounted for by a payoff to an outgoing chief executive.

There was also a £5.3m dividend for Sanders, who owns all of the business. Despite Runwood's woes, we leave our value of the business unchanged this year. Sanders' dividend justifies raising him to £253m this year.


16) Gary Widdowson and Family

INDUSTRY: Metals Recycling and Property

2018: £235M (17th) 2019: £242M

Gary Widdowson built his fortune in scrap metal yards. His father Albert opened his first yard in the 1960s, with Gary joining the business soon after.

The Harlow¬based family sold their main operation Metal Waste Recycling in 2007 for £120m, keeping hold of Total Waste Management, a smaller operation with sites in Basildon and Epping. An international show jumper in his youth, in 2016 Widdowson and his wife Beverley became the first owners to have two horses in the same Olympic team.

The assets in Widdowson's main property company have risen by £6m over the past year and there has been a £1m rise in the wealth held in a separate company. These rises now take the Widdowsons to £242m.


17) Victor Chandler

INDUSTRY: Gambling

2018: £230M (18th) 2019: £230M

Essex¬born Victor Chandler is building a new gambling empire in Africa. His Bet Lion start¬up began operating in Kenya in December last year after earlier launching in Uganda. Chandler took over the family's bookmaking business in 1974 when his father died.

He knew little of the industry but developed a successful operation by creating a chain of bookies, which he sold to larger chains while retaining the freehold on the properties. In May 2014 Chandler sold his 45% stake in BetVictor. No figures were disclosed, but there had been talk of a £400m sale or float.

We suspect the business was sold for around £350m. Art, property and investments still put Chandler at around £230m.


18) Vipul Thakrar and Family

INDUSTRY: Food Production

2018: £209M (19th) 2019: £225M

The Thakrars moved to Uganda from India, but were later expelled from the east African country during Idi Amin's regime in the early 1970s. The family settled in Essex and in time built up their Rainham¬based Tilda Rice into one of the country's leading suppliers of basmati rice.

Vipul Thakrar sold the family¬owned firm for £220m in 2014. The next generation are now hard at work building their chain of Dishoom restaurants. Dishoom saw its sales rise by 26% to nearly £45m in 2018.

There were profits of nearly £2.3m and dividends of £10.5m have been paid over the past two years. We now value Dishoom at £20m, justifying raising the Thakrars to £225m this year. The restaurant chain has given away more than five million meals to feed needy children in the UK and India.


19) Graham Peacock

INDUSTRY: Fuel Distribution

2018: £200M (20th) 2019: £205M

Graham Peacock has recently increased his stake in Rotala, the commercial bus service operator. He serves on the board of the West Midlands¬based firm and now owns 6% of the shares − a holding worth £1.74m. But this remains small beer compared to his MRH (GB), the Epping¬based petrol retailing giant he set up with Susan Tobbell in 1997.

Peacock had worked in filling stations since his late teens, but waited until his late 40s until starting his own business. By the time the pair sold up in 2016, MRH had annual sales of more than £2bn from 450 outlets branded as BP, Esso or Torq. Peacock served as chief executive and owned a 22% stake in the business. A US private¬equity operation bought the business for around £1bn.

In 2018 he and Tobell began building TG Convenience Stores, a new retail chain selling petrol under the Texaco brand. Peacock also has a cereal farming operation in Dunmow which shows £17m assets, up £5m since our last look. We raise Peacock accordingly this year to £205m.


20) Susan Tobbell

INDUSTRY: Fuel Retailing

2018: £200M (20th) 2019: £202M

Tobbell and her business partner Graham Peacock have begun building a second petrol station chain. The pair sold their Epping¬based MRH network of 450 sites for around £1bn in 2016.

Tobbell picked up around £220m for her 22% stake in the business. Their new operation TG Convenience Stores already has 21 outlets and early in 2019 signed a deal to sell fuel under the Texaco brand.

We raise Tobbell this year by £2m in line with her share of the net assets of TG Convenience's net assets.


21) Sir Jonathan Ive

INDUSTRY: Design Technology

2018: £177M (24th) 2019: £192M

Jonathan Ive is the design genius behind the iPhone, iPod and countless other Apple products, but the Chingford¬born designer revealed in June 2019 that he is leaving to start his own business after more than two decades at the Silicon Valley giant. Little is known about Ive's new venture other than its name

. It is to be called LoveFrom, will initially be based in California and is expected to launch during 2020. Ive has said the new business will work with Apple as well as other clients, turning its attentions to wearable technology and healthcare as well as some of his other 'personal passions'.

Details of Ive's pay and shareholding at Apple were not made public, but a biography of the designer claimed that he was once paid a $30m bonus and offered $25m of shares after threatening to leave Apple. Last year Apple's chief executive Tim Cook took home at least $136m (£107m). The size of Cook's pay packet makes us confident in raising Ive to £192m for now.


22) Sir Rod Stewart


2018: £180M (22nd) 2019: £190M

Rod Stewart's latest album, Blood Red Roses, outsold releases by Ariana Grande, Little Mix and Anne¬Marie, making it the 15th best¬selling album of 2018. But the Essex¬based singer's finances will have been boosted even more by his ongoing passion for touring. Pollstar published figures that showed box office receipts of $26m from 28 shows in 2018.

However, these numbers excluded 14 shows at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. Stewart's new home, the Grade¬II listed Durrington House near Harlow, was bought for £4.65m in 2013 and he's spent three years renovating the 10¬bedroom property, which is set in 46 acres of pastures and ancient woodland.

Such extensive grounds should give Stewart and his wife Penny Lancaster plenty of space to indulge their passion for growing flowers. The couple are regulars at the Chelsea Flower Show and the rocker revealed that when suffering from throat cancer he considered quitting music to set up a flower business. Stewart's lucrative touring schedule prompts us to raise him to £190m this year.


23) David and Lucy Wernick & Family

INDUSTRY: Construction

2018: £140M (27th) 2019: £185M

The Wernick family's business initially made crates and chicken houses for poultry farmers, but David Wernick's grandfather, Sam, began selling sheds in the 1930s and today the Wickford¬based business is one of the biggest makers and providers of modular builders.

David's involvement began at the age of 11, with a tedious summer job counting and sorting bolts. He now chairs the group. Profits grew to £15.9m profit on sales of £111.9m in 2018. We now value the Wickford¬based business at £160m. David's wife Lucy has a fashion agency based in London's Clerkenwell.

The Canadian¬born former trader started the operation in 1993, initially distributing children's clothing. A few years later she specialised in American labels for adults. We value this operation on its £15.3m net assets and add a further £10m to the family for other wealth. This all takes the Wernicks to £185m.


24) Nigel Morris


2018: £180M (22nd) 2019: £180M

Billericay¬born Nigel Morris once worked as a social worker and nearly pursued a career as an academic. But he made money instead, building up and selling the Capital One credit card business.

Morris retired from Capital One in 2004 having sold £136m worth of shares. He is now based in Virginia, where he runs QED Investors, which funds tech companies.

This operation has invested in tech and finance start¬ups, such as Prosper, Credit Karma and SoFi. He also sits on the boards of Zopa, the peer¬to¬peer lender. We keep Morris at £180m this year.


25) Barry Hearn and Family

INDUSTRY: Sports Management and Media

2018: £115M (30th) 2019: £168M

Barry Hearn made a fortune from snooker and is now doing very nicely out of Anthony Joshua. After making his first money while working for Deryck Healy International, he set up his own firm in the early 1980s.

He initially had a Romford snooker hall, a fruit¬machine and pool¬table business in the East End and some offices. Then one day the best snooker player the world had yet produced, Steve Davis, walked in off the street. Since then Hearn has dominated snooker, overseeing its extraordinary leap as it became established as one of Britain's favourite television sports.

Joshua is one of a number of big name fighters he promotes. Matchroom, owned by Hearn and his family, made profits of £17.9m on £132.8m sales in 2017¬18. With Hearn's fingers now in so many pies, we believe his business is worth £150m. The latest accounts (2017¬18) show a £5.9m dividend for Hearn and his family who own it all. With his other assets, Hearn is easily now worth £168m.


26) Sir Keith Mills

INDUSTRY: Loyalty Cards

2018: £160M (25th) 2019: £160M

Keith Mills has invested £12m in Ecrebo, a data analytics firm helping Waitrose, M&S and Dixons Carphone increase sales. Mills, who hails from Brentwood, certainly knows a thing or two about loyalty programmes, having made a fortune from the Air Miles and Nectar schemes. When he sold Nectar, he bagged £160m.

The avid sailor was a leading backer of Sir Ben Ainslie's unsuccessful America's Cup sailing campaign last year. This was the loyalty scheme entrepreneur's latest venture into the sporting realm, having previously organised the Invictus Games.

He was also deputy chairman of the organising committee of the 2012 London Olympics. His other assets include around £2m of company assets and a recent £2.5m investment in video messaging app Wordeo. We still value Mills at £160m.


27) Simon Dolan

INDUSTRY: Business Services

2018: £141M (26th) 2019: £142M

Chelmsford¬raised Simon Dolan owns Mandilay, the Balinise¬inspired estate on Mustique designed by David Bowie. You can rent the sumptuous retreat for £30,000¬a¬week. Entrepreneurial zest began early for Dolan, selling scratch cards in the playground of King Edward VI Grammar School in Chelmsford.

After being expelled at 16 he sold cheese and eggs on a stall at the town's market stall. In his early 20s he took out a £10 advert in his local newspaper advertising his accountancy skills. He started a simple business handling accounts and tax returns for small, local businesses, offering his services on a fixed¬fee basis and running the business from his spare bedroom.

In time the business grew into one of the UK's largest accountancy firms, with more than 14,000 clients. Dolan has developed a portfolio of other interests, including employment services and publishing. His parent company, Hemel Hempstead¬based SJD Group, was sold in September 2014 for more than £100m. Since then he has become enthused by motor racing and created his own team Jota Sports in 2011. His Jota Group now has three divisions, focusing on motorsport, engineering for racing cars and an airline based at London Southend. Dolan's past salaries, car collection and property interests should easily take him to £142m.


28) Surinder Kandola and Family

INDUSTRY: Business Services

2018: £126M (29th) 2019: £127M

Za Za Bazaar is the jewel in Surinder Kandola's crown. The Bristol¬based food emporium is believed to be the UK's biggest restaurant, with seating for 1,000 diners in one sitting. Kandola has also run more than 200 Dominos Pizza restaurants around the country.

He is now growing a British chain of Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee and doughnut cafes. Kandola's main company, Chelmsford¬based GDSK, made a £4.8m loss on £109.1m sales in 2017¬18. But it should be worth its £113.4m net assets − down nearly £5m on last year. Kandola has a 90% stake in this business worth over £102m. In addition, he owns 81% of the Tim Horton UK franchise operation.

While it made a £7.6m loss in its first accounts for the 17 months to the end of 2017, it did show £24.3m of assets. This makes Kandola's stake here worth nearly £19.7m. We value Kandola at £127m − the combined value of these two holdings, plus £5m for other wealth.


29) Gene Willson

INDUSTRY: Transport

2018: £70M (43rd) 2019: £121M

James Blunt, Pixie Lott and hundreds of other VIPs have been flown by Titan Airways over the years. Pilot Gene Willson set up the Stansted¬based business in 1988, adopting the name from the company's first plane, a Cessna Titan 404.

Willson's outfit now offers a wide range of services, including aircraft leasing to large airlines, transporting mail and freight as well as ferrying football stars, F1 teams and other sports stars to their fixtures. Titan's parent company made profits of £7m on sales of £114.2m in 2018¬19.

Willson now owns all of the business, having bought out private¬equity group 3i. We value Titan at £110m because that profit figure would be a lot higher were it not for the £7m dividend Willson took last year. Willson has taken £17m of dividends over the past four years, justifying his smooth ascent to £121m this year.


30) Avnish Goyal and Family

INDUSTRY: Care Homes

2018: £105M (34th) 2019: £120M

Avnish Goyal and his wife run the Avnish & Anita Ultimate You self¬help website. For starters, visitors to the website are invited to take a quiz to 'discover your primary love language'.

But Avnish Goyal and his family didn't amass their £120m fortune by playing cupid. Their wealth stems from the less romantic Hallmark Care Homes. The Billericay¬based business has 19 care homes located across the Midlands, southern England and Wales.

Profits climbed to £13.3m on £64.2m turnover in 2017¬18. With nearly £41m of net assets the business should easily be worth £110m. Dividends and a separate property business at least 75% owned by Goyal and his family should take the former PwC accountant and his family to £120m.


31= Brendon O'Malley and Family

INDUSTRY: Construction

2018: £140M (27th) 2019: £115M

Members of the O'Malley family founded their construction business Mulalley in 1972. Today four out of the five directors are still members of the family.

Profits fell by more than 20% during 2018¬19, with the Woodford Green¬based firm noting the uncertainty around Brexit and planning delays in a challenging year. There is future work in the pipeline worth £916m.

Net assets grew by more than £4.2m to £108m and there was a £1.5m dividend for the O'Malleys. But profits over the past three years have been significantly lower than a stronger period earlier in this decade. So we slash the value of the business down to its net assets number this year, adding £7m for dividends and other wealth to the O'Malleys.


31= Pete Flint

INDUSTRY: Internet

2018: £115M (30th) 2019: £115M

Chigwell¬raised Pete Flint was an executive at Lastminute.com before quitting London for California and an MBA at Stanford Business School.

While trying to find a house he saw that the property world at that time was largely unchanged by the internet. That inspired him to launch the real estate listing site Trulia, with the help of $2m from investors. In 2012 the company floated on the stock market, valued at $449m.

Three years later its larger rival Zillow took over Trulia in a $3.5bn deal. This valued Flint's stake at around $150m. Still based in San Francisco, he now runs NFX, a venture capital operation. Taking account of Flint's other investments, he should easily be still worth £115m.


33= Lord and Martin Harris

INDUSTRY: Food and Property

2018: £110M (32nd) 2019: £110M

Lord Harris and his son Martin only launched Tapi carpets in 2015 and have already built a network of more than 130 stores. The start¬up represents a comeback for the pair, who for years worked together building up Carpetright.

Lord Harris took over his family's carpet business at the age of 15 after his father's death. He sold this operation, which had become Harris Queensway, in 1988 netting £69m. When he stood down as chairman of the Rainham¬based Carpetright business in 2014 after 57 years in the trade, it had more than 600 shops and annual sales of nearly half a billion pounds. Tapi's sales grew by nearly 90% to almost £57m in 2017.

The new business remains loss¬making and so we cautiously value it at £8.4m. We still value Harris and his family at around £110m. He would he much richer but for his charitable work, which includes the Harris Federation of 47 school academies.


33= Suki and Harry Dulai & Family

INDUSTRY: Food and Property

2018: £105M (33rd) 2019: £110M

Harry and Suki Dulai run their family's Flying Trade Group, which operates a portfolio of food businesses and 12 hotels, employing 1,400 people across 30 countries.

The Harwich¬based business was founded by their father, Kewal, who came to Britain from India in the early 1970s. The Dulais' hotels include The George in Colchester and the Great Hallingbury Manor Hotel near Bishop's Stortford. Last year they snapped up Colchester's St Nicholas Hotel.

The family are also acquiring bars, cafes and nightclubs. Turnover grew by 16% to £152.6m in 2018, with profits falling by a slither to £10.5m. The net assets on the main company's balance sheet grew by nearly £9m to £57.1m. We now value the business, and the Dulais, at £110m.


35) Jane Gee and Daniel Watts

INDUSTRY: Property

2018: £100M (36th) 2019: £101M

Jane Gee and her brother Daniel Watts continue to work on developing their Tollgate Village Retail Park at Stanway on the outskirts of Colchester.

The £70m site was the vision of their father James and the latest plans include a multi¬screen cinema and nine restaurants. Twice knocked back by planning decisions, the scheme was later approved by the current Chancellor Sajid Javid when he was local government secretary.

The family's main subsidiary, Corporate Associates, showed £96.9m net assets in 2017¬18 − a £600,000 rise that justifies taking the family to £101m this year.


36) Rob Rai & Family

INDUSTRY: Care Homes

2018: £72M (42nd) 2019: £100M

Rob Rai founded Ilford¬based Ranc Care Homes in 1991. The Ilford¬based chain of 10 homes, includes premises in Brentwood, Romford and Buckhurst Hill.

Profits rose strongly to £8.1m in 2017¬18 and the net assets on the balance sheet of the main company rose to nearly £88m.

A £5m dividend was paid in the same year. We spot a £12.6m payment two years before too. All this, and other wealth, should now take the Rais to £100m.


37) Graham and Richard Cherry

INDUSTRY: Construction

2018: £98M (37th) 2019: £98M

Brentwood housebuilder Countryside built nearly 4,300 homes in 2018. Alan Cherry founded the business in 1958, with his sons Graham and Richard working alongside one another for many years.

The brothers sold shares worth £36m in June 2017, a year after the float. The value of the stock has slipped slightly since then and Countryside is now worth £1.31bn. Stonebond, an investment company owned by the Cherrys, has assets of £23.7m, up £17.1m in a year.

Despite the smaller stake in Countryside, the increase in wealth in Stonebond prompts us to leave the Cherry brothers unchanged this year at £98m.


38) Kevin Taylor

INDUSTRY: Construction

2018: £90M (38th) 2019: £90M

Earlier this year McLaren Construction won a £105m contract to build a new training centre for Leicester City Football Club, complete with 11 full¬size pitches, eight smaller pitches, 35 bedrooms and a rehabilitation centre.

Monaco¬based Kevin Taylor launched the business in 2001, with a fax machine box serving as the firm's first desk. The Brentwood¬based property developer now has more than 700 staff hard at work on projects across the UK and in Dubai. Taylor still chairs the company, which booked profits of £3.7m on £585.6m turnover in 2017¬18. A £27.3m dividend was paid three years ago.

A separate company controlled by Taylor overseeing a number of student accommodation developments shows assets of £29.3m. With McLaren's turnover falling and profits broadly flat, we leave Taylor unchanged at £90m this year.


39) Christopher Johnson and Family

INDUSTRY: Industry

2018: £60M (47th) 2019: £87M

Ipeco makes seating, ovens and a myriad of other components for airplanes. Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier are all customers of the Southend Airport¬based business, which was started by Christopher Johnson's father in 1961.

Allan Johnson had heard of pilots and other crew complaining about back and leg pain, so set to work developing seats with adjustable support. Christopher, his wife Elizabeth and son Steve all serve as directors today.

With £71.9m sitting on its balance sheet, profits of £6m and turnover of nearly £88m, this should comfortably be a £75m business. Johnson and his family have received nearly £17m of dividends over the past three years. This should easily take the Johnsons to £87m.


40) Dennis and Patricia Myers


2018: £84M (39th) 2019: £85M

Dennis Myers struck gold in 2004 when he sold his Romford¬based mortgage and consumer credit business Swift Advances for around £100m.

He had set the business up with his wife Patricia 20 years before after gaining experience as a finance broker. With his family trusts, Myers owned all the shares.

Myers now has a portfolio of buy¬to¬let investment properties valued at £12.2m. We put the finance man at £85m this year.


41= Simon and Kim Morrish

INDUSTRY: Property Services

2018: NEW ENTRY 2019: £80M

Simon Morrish and his American wife Kim took over Ground Control 15 years ago. The Billericay¬based business maintains buildings and grounds owned by Tesco, Halfords, Sainsburys and Travelodge, as well as sites occupied by the NHS and dozens of local authorities.

After studying at Oxford, Morrish worked as a derivatives analyst at Morgan Stanley and at McKinsey as a consultant. He and Kim later quit their jobs to set up the property website How¬Smart Ltd. They sold the operation on to a US corporate.

The pair have doubled Ground Control's turnover in the past two years. Ground Control made nearly £7.9m profit on £118.2m sales in 2017¬18 and should now be worth £80m. The Morrishs' stake is worth £76.3m. Assets in other companies should easily take the couple to £80m.


41= Ray and Penny Stephens & Family

INDUSTRY: Industry

2018: £105M (34th) 2019: £80M

Penny Stephens met her husband Ray at the age 20, when she joined his family firm Inflite. The Stansted¬based engineering firm makes components for the aerospace industry.

Today Penny runs Inflite The Jet Centre, a private aviation arm of Inflite used by Lord Alan Sugar, Sir Rod Stewart and the Spice Girls over the years. She started taking flying lessons at the age of 17.

Profits at the Stephens' parent company fell by nearly 20% to £7.9m on lower turnover of £56.9m in 2017¬18. We value the operation on its £73.9m net assets and add £6m for other wealth.


43= Richard Higgins and Family

INDUSTRY: Construction

2018: £70M (43rd) 2019: £72M

Richard Higgins chairs his family's Loughton¬based construction business. The group was founded in 1961 by his father, the late Derek Higgins, when he had three sons under the age of five. Over the past year the firm has been busy building apartment blocks in Chelmsford, Islington and Hackney.

Turnover rose by 14% to £332.2m in 2017¬18, with net assets rising to £56.2m − an increase of £2m on the year before.

We raise our value of Higgins Group accordingly to £62m, still adding £10m for dividends and other assets to the Higgins family, bringing them to £72m.


43= Ian Liddell

INDUSTRY: Logistics

2018: £79M (41st) 2019: £72M

Tilbury¬based Uniserve handles transportation by land, sea and air, as well as storage for its customers. Liddell previously worked for a leading shipping line and gained experience of the container trade.

He dreamed up the idea for setting up his own freight operation the day before his 21st birthday in June 1984. The business made a £6.3m loss on £223.6m in 2017¬18, partly due to £9m bad debt and a tough climate for its retail clients.

We value the business on its £67.8m net assets, down £6.8m in a year. We still add £4m for past dividends and other wealth.


45= Steven Rose and Family

INDUSTRY: Construction

2018: NEW ENTRY 2019: £70M

Manningtree¬based Rose Group provides a wide range of building services. The current firm was formed in 1995, but it evolved from H L Rose & Sons, which began trading in 1896 and was run by the same family for four generations.

Profits at the newer Rose Group increased by 80% to £7.5m on record turnover of nearly £54m in 2017¬18. This is now a £65m business and is owned by managing director Steven Rose. He and members of his family also own at least half of the separate investment property operation Rosper Estates.

This company is worth its £10.4m assets. This takes the Roses to at least £70m.


45= Frank Van Wezel

INDUSTRY: Industry

2018: £70M (43rd) 2019: £70M

Dutchman Frank van Wezel made his money from founding and building up the sport footwear outfit Hi¬Tec in the mid 1970s. When friends at his local squash club grumbled about the quality and cost of their footwear, he decided to make and sell his own.

But it was the running boom of the 1980s that really helped his Shoeburyness¬based business pick up speed. Hi¬Tech was sold in late 2016 to the US brand Cherokee for $96m. In 1996 Van Wezel successfully bid at auction for the Hi¬Tec shoes Nelson Mandela wore during his many years of incarceration.

The shoes are now on display in the window of one of Hi¬Tec's South African stores. Van Wezel is a director of League One football club Southend United. He should still be worth £70m.


47) Tony Chambers

INDUSTRY: Property

2018: NEW ENTRY 2019: £69M

Keen fisherman Tony Chambers is an expert at town centre developments, retail parks and supermarkets.

Since setting up his Aquila House Holdings in 2001, the Chelmsford¬based firm has developed sites with a value of more than £400m in Colchester, Maldon, Springfield and London's West End.

We see £69.1m of net assets on the balance sheet of the main Aquila company and value Chambers at that level. The chartered surveyor's firm was behind the recent John Lewis development in Chelmsford.


48) David Sanders-Smith and Family

INDUSTRY: Retailing

2018: NEW ENTRY 2019: £68M

David Sanders¬Smith started Result Clothing in 1971 as a one¬man band selling his wares in Holland, Scandanavia, Germany and France.

The Colchester¬based operation specialises in providing branded jackets, fleeces and a wide range of other clothes and headgear to businesses. Turnover rose by more than 10% to £32m in 2017¬18.

With another rise in profits and £26.3m on the balance sheet, this is now a £60m business and remains owned by the Saunders¬Smith family. Dividends from Result and a company with a £6.6m investment in China should easily take them to £68m.


49= Robbie and Cheryl Cowling

INDUSTRY: Internet and Football

2018: £80 (40th) 2019: £65M

The Cowlings have had a tough year. Brexit¬related uncertainty in the jobs market has hit turnover for their online recruitment businesses, which include Jobserve, HotLizard and jobshark.com.

Losses from League Two Colchester United Football Club, which the husband and wife team bought in 2006, have increased because of lower match¬day ticket sales. Profits at their holding company Aspire fell by 60% to a meagre £2.8m in 2017¬18.

The Tiptree¬based business still has £17.1m of assets on its balance sheet and the Cowlings have been investing in a housing development, which should show revenues in the next set of accounts. But we still cut the value of their business by £15m to £65m this year.


49= Alan Pierce

INDUSTRY: Plumbing Supplies

2018: NEW ENTRY 2019: £65M

Business is booming for Allan Pierce and his plumbing outfit APP Wholesale. Over the years he has established some memorably named brands, such as FlushKING and Mr Central Heating.

Profits gushed up to £6.1m in 2017¬18, with turnover surging by more than 20% to £167.2m. Pierce has worked in the plumbing and heating trade for 50 years and insists he has 'many more years to give'. He started out with a single store in Chelmsford called House of Heating and over the years has changed his company's name and focus, with APP emerging in 2008.

With nearly £25m of assets on the balance sheet, this should easily be a £60m business, chaired and entirely owned by Pierce. A couple of separate companies and former deals should take him to £65m.

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