Britain's Top 100 Entrepreneurs 2008: Premium Power

Financial services still has the edge, but MT's latest ranking of Britain's top wealth-creators reveals a few surprises. Philip Beresford hails the manufacturers' return.

by
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

For the second year running, MT's Top 100 Entrepreneurs ranking proves that if you want to make a 21st-century fortune, financial services is where it's at. Insurance entrepreneur Peter Cullum heads the 2007 list. His Kent-based Towergate operation is experiencing hyper-growth. Set up by Cullum in 1997, Towergate is now the UK's largest privately owned insurance intermediary.

Cullum, though, faces the almost inevitable dilemma of every top entrepreneur: whether to sell up to private-equity players willing to pay upwards of £3bn for his business. Thus far, he has resisted their blandishments, claiming he is having 'the time of his life' building the business. But when he could walk away with £1.5bn, it becomes difficult to refuse the offers.

Cullum's operation has been in business for only a decade. But many of our Top 100 have been around for quite a lot longer. JCB, the construction equipment company, is now 62 years old. Under Sir Anthony Bamford's tutelage, JCB has expanded its product range, invested heavily in British manufacturing and spread its plants worldwide. Ranked 39th on our list, Bamford is also the wealthiest individual in this year's ranking, worth a cool £1.65bn.

In fact, 2007 seems to be the year of the manufacturers' return. The sector has shed a million jobs and been ignored by Government, but the survivors are leaner and fitter. We have found 27 niche, often family-owned, manufacturers, beavering away in highly specialist markets. We could do with a lot more of them.

Many Top 100 manufacturers are there by courtesy of the explosive growth of the Chinese and Indian economies. Soaring demand for oil and minerals from these voracious giants has brought a boom for oil servicing companies or those providing mining equipment of one sort or another. Waste-metal operations are also enjoying unprecedented growth. Take Dunn Brothers, a West Midlands scrap-metal operation. It introduced the use of shipping containers specifically for steel scrap; the firm now sells more scrap in China than it does in the UK. If every British business could come within a shout of its 74% of turnover exported, the British economy would indeed match Germany's.

Niche industrial groups may dominate, but the good news for Britain is that all MT's 100 have played their role in creating vital employment. Over the past five years, they have collectively created 58,552 new jobs, taking their total employment from 58,198 to 116,750. This is a 101% increase in that period, a very good showing in a year where consumer and business confidence has taken a battering.

Virtually all these increases are due to organic growth - not by fancy financial engineering and takeovers. The only real rival to these entrepreneurs in job creation is the public sector. Our entrepreneurs are at least doing their bit to redress the balance for the private sector.

Another key indicator is turnover growth. In this regard, the Top 100 have raised their game sharply over the past five years, with sales up from £8.7bn to over £18.5bn - a huge amount of economic activity. Turnover growth - at 113% - is quite a lot higher than employment growth. By keeping the percentage rise in personnel numbers below the growth in sales, they are in effect improving productivity. A crude guide, but no entrepreneur worth their salt ignores the head-count.

Our third measure of how well our entrepreneurs are doing derives from a valuation of their stake in the business and other assets. Such valuations come with many caveats, but nevertheless serve as a rough-and-ready guide. Collectively, the Top 100 are, by our reckoning, worth about £17.2bn.

We have taken care to look for entrepreneurs who also reflect a good geographic, ethnic and gender mix, but above all those who are as financially robust as it is possible to be today. We hate hefty borrowings, and we love our entrepreneurs to have steadily increasing profits - which they re-invest in the company rather than take out as dividends or salaries.

Indeed, it is the very diversity of the Top 100 that shows the strength of the British enterprise culture right through the economy. Aside from the 27 in industry, we have 11 in computers, software, internet and telecoms, the second-biggest sector, larger even than financial services with six, or construction with 10. One obvious absence is the property world - our measurements do not really fit this sector, which is all about growth in asset values rather than driving up sales or creating employment.

This year, we have 29 women in the list, a record - and up on last year's 24. It's encouraging that some of them are invading macho territory. Take Dawn Gibbins, who runs a successful flooring operation, or SCi's Jane Cavanagh, who despite her firm's current travails - it posted a £30m loss for the year to June 2007 after sales of games for Sony's PS3 failed to take off - remains the UK's most successful female computer games entrepreneur. Even if SCi is bought, we won't have seen the last of her.

Britain's burgeoning Asian enterprise culture is well represented, with five in the table. But what's missing is a good influx of young entrepreneurs from the Muslim community.

In geographical terms, we still see the dominance of London and the South-east, accounting for 33 of our 100. But some regions are strong - the Midlands now has 16 representatives, Scotland and Yorkshire 11 apiece, with the South-west and North-west at nine each.

The one fact that unites our Top 100 is their record of success. But with stormclouds gathering over the world economy, they will need to draw on all their resilience and experience to continue prospering.

THE LEAGUE TABLE
Rank Name Age Company
1 Peter Cullum 57 Towergate
2 Ayman Asfari 49 Petrofac
3 Andrew Black and Ed Wray 44/39 Betfair
4 Philip Richards and 47/50 RAB Capital
Michael Alen-Buckley
5 Dr Mike Lynch 42 Autonomy
6 Simon Nixon 40 Moneysupermarket.com
7 Laurence Graff 69 Graff Diamonds International
8 Matthew Brown 44 Giant Group
9 Mark Coombs 47 Ashmore
10 Chris Dawson 56 CDS (Superstores
International)
11 Sir David Murray 56 Murray International
12 Mark Fitzgerald and 31/29 MX Telecom
Thomas O'Donohue
13 Andrew and Sharon Turner 49/50 Central Trust
14 Charles Dunstone 43 Carphone Warehouse
=15 Tom Dalrymple 62 Globespan
=15 Andrew and Paul Gower* 29/31 Jagex
17 Gary Dutton 58 Synseal
18 Sir Anwar Pervez 72 Bestway
19 Shaf Rasul 37 E-Net Computers
20 Jane Cavanagh 50 SCI Entertainment
=21 Surinder Arora 49 Arora Holdings
=21 Tim Mead 44 Yeo Valley
23 Martin Penny 54 Jemella
24 Allen Timpany 51 Vanco
25 John Williams 48 Maritime Group
=26 Steve Brundle 55 The Print Factory
=26 Geoff Salters and Joe Sloan 63/61 SHS Group
28 Stephen Haines 45 Carte Blanche Greetings
29 Farouq and Haroon Sheikh 49/51 Caretech
=30 Tim and Kit Kemp 61/- Firmdale
=30 Andrew and Anne Nisbet 47/47 Nisbets
32 Stewart Milne 57 Stewart Milne
33 Tony Langley 53 Langley Holdings
34 Christian Rucker and 39/42 White Company/
Nick Wheeler* Charles Tyrwhitt
=35 Eileen Gallagher 48 Shed Media
=35 Carly Read and Valerie Scott 59/37 Icon Live
37 Peter Hargreaves and 61/55 Hargreaves Lansdown
Stephen Lansdown
38 Mike Edge 52 London & Country
39 Sir Anthony Bamford 62 JCB
40 Linda Bennett 45 LK Bennett
41 Judy Craymer 50 Littlestar Services
42 Dean and Janet Hoyle* 40/40 Card Factory
=43 Lee Cottingham 32 Mark Group
=43 Sarah Tremellen 41 Bravissimo
45 Mark and Mo Constantine 55/44 Lush Cosmetics
46 Hamish Ogston 59 CPP
=47 Alan Dunn 65 Dunn Brothers (1995)
=47 Richard Harpin 43 Homeserve
49 David and Luisa Scacchetti 56/56 Mamas & Papas
50 Robert Bianco 74 Cleveland Steel & Tubes
51 Emma Harrison 44 A4E
52 Robert Braithwaite 59 Sunseeker International
=53 Dawn Gibbins 49 Flowcrete
=53 Neil McRoberts 64 Moorcroft
=55 Shelagh Elkins 55 Tectrade
=55 Tony and Barbara Laithwaite 62/61 Direct Wines
57 James Murray 37 Alternative Networks
58 Patrick Howard 61 Keenwork
59 Sir David McMurtry 67 Renishaw
=60 Alan Beardshaw 59 Special Steel Co
=60 Iain Burgess 35 BVG-Airflo
62 Iain Liddell 44 Uniserve Holdings
63 Mustafa and Fatma Kiamil 51/46 JJ Food Service
64 Duncan Fletcher 65 Forth Holdings
=65 Alan and Ann Potts 70/59 MMD Mining Machinery
=65 Bill Robertson 62 Robertson Group
67 Colin Mustoe 62 Senator International
68 Jeremy Woolridge 63 BE Wedge
=69 Chey Garland 50 CJ Garland
=69 Andrew Marr 65 Andrew Marr
=71 Chris Rea 53 AES
=71 Rory Sweet 40 Simian
=73 Michael Gregory 63 Cromwell Group
=73 David and Richard Walters 62/27 G Walters Holdings
75 Doreen Lofthouse 77 Lofthouse of Fleetwood
76 James Barrett 52 Barrett Steel
=77 Tim and Robyn Jones 48/46 Charlton House Catering
=77 Charles Ritchie 60 Score Group
79 Ian Leith 59 Leiths (Scotland)
80 Peter and Angela Cattee 55/54 PCT Healthcare
81 Simon Preedy 47 Marla Tube Fittings
82 Kevin Doyle 60 Caledonian Heritable
83 Lord Tanlaw 73 Fandstan Electric
=84 Gulshen and Asif Bhatia 74/38 Prestmade
=84 John Guest 80 John Guest
86 John and Darren Donnelly 60/37 Retlan Manufacturing
87 Robert Senior 55 Euromonitor International
88 Stefan King* 45 GI Group
89 Charles and Betsan Partridge 68/66 Sonardyne
90 Dame Margaret Barbour 67 J Barbour
91 Neil Patton* 45 Patton Group
=92 Lewis Gray* 62 Gray & Adams
=92 Charles Hudson 71 Instarmac
94 Anne Ridgeon 41 Ridgeon Group
95 Robert and Jonathan Mould 59/54 Romo
96 David and Betty Carr* 70/67 Helston Garages
97 Denise Millard 49 Perrys
98 Trevor Storer 77 Pukka Pies
=99 William Hughes 66 B&M Care
=99 Derrick Potter 66 Potter Group

Rank Name Activity Wealth Latest 5yr %
(pounds turnover rise in
m) (pounds turnover
m)
1 Peter Cullum Insurance 1,700 238 510
2 Ayman Asfari Oil Services 390 949 290
3 Andrew Black
and Ed Wray On-line betting
exchange 190 182 469
4 Philip Richards
and Hedge Fund 150 118 972
Michael
Alen-Buckley
5 Dr Mike Lynch Software 263 128 300
6 Simon Nixon Internet 480 105 400
7 Laurence Graff Diamonds 1,500 195 178
8 Matthew Brown Business Services 75 110 587
9 Mark Coombs Financial services 1,000 164 680
10 Chris Dawson Retailing 150 135 200
11 Sir David Murray Metals, mining,
football 750 538 143
12 Mark Fitzgerald Telecoms 54 45 2,150
and
Thomas O'Donohue
13 Andrew and
Sharon Turner Financial services 275 112 180
14 Charles Dunstone Mobile phones 1,030 3991 117
=15 Tom Dalrymple Aviation & travel 75 208 185
=15 Andrew and
Paul Gower* Computer games 106 17 240
17 Gary Dutton Industry 100 92 149
18 Sir Anwar Pervez Cash & carry 790 1,329 84
19 Shaf Rasul Computer products 102 54 260
20 Jane Cavanagh Computer games 25 179 539
=21 Surinder Arora Hotels 225 44 100
=21 Tim Mead Food production 83 135 207
23 Martin Penny Hair care products 80 69 86
24 Allen Timpany Telecoms 45 183 245
25 John Williams Transport 30 57 850
=26 Steve Brundle Printing 25 65 550
=26 Geoff Salters
and Joe Sloan Food & drink
distribution 170 331 81
28 Stephen Haines Greetings cards 87 55 120
29 Farouq and
Haroon Sheikh Care homes 80 33 120
=30 Tim and Kit Kemp Hotels 116 42 100
=30 Andrew and
Anne Nisbet Catering equipment 110 84 133
32 Stewart Milne Construction 400 348 97
33 Tony Langley Industry 205 234 123
34 Christian
Rucker and
Nick Fashion 65 96 118
Wheeler*
=35 Eileen Gallagher TV production 10 43 207
=35 Carly Read and
Valerie Scott Jewellery 20 46 254
37 Peter
Hargreaves and
Stephen Financial services 400 70 79
Lansdown
38 Mike Edge Finacial services 80 15 275
39 Sir Anthony
Bamford Industry 1,650 1,750 89
40 Linda Bennett Fashion 150 45 67
41 Judy Craymer Music 78 27 440
42 Dean and
Janet Hoyle* Retailing 29 72 177
=43 Lee Cottingham Industry 30 37 164
=43 Sarah Tremellen Retailing 20 29 164
45 Mark and Mo
Constantine Retailing 50 100 194
46 Hamish Ogston Business Services 450 198 88
=47 Alan Dunn Scrap metal 30 87 222
=47 Richard Harpin Insurance/home
services 200 477 83
49 David and Luisa
Scacchetti Retail & distribution 57 105 102
50 Robert Bianco Industry 90 65 117
51 Emma Harrison Business services 35 101 146
52 Robert
Braithwaite Industry 130 240 70
=53 Dawn Gibbins Construction 24 37 164
=53 Neil McRoberts Business Services 105 35 94
=55 Shelagh Elkins Computers 20 67 319
=55 Tony and
Barbara
Laithwaite Wine sales 110 271 43
57 James Murray Telecoms 26 66 154
58 Patrick Howard Industry 60 77 120
59 Sir David
McMurtry Industry 200 181 63
=60 Alan Beardshaw Steel 72 30 131
=60 Iain Burgess Distribution 20 36 177
62 Iain Liddell Transport 70 94 65
63 Mustafa and
Fatma Kiamil Food distribution 25 89 93
64 Duncan Fletcher Electrical contractor 35 122 100
=65 Alan and
Ann Potts Industry 42 35 67
=65 Bill Robertson Construction 120 194 44
67 Colin Mustoe Industry 66 76 69
68 Jeremy Woolridge Industry 43 98 128
=69 Chey Garland Business Services 30 44 27
=69 Andrew Marr Shipping 31 236 111
=71 Chris Rea Industry 36 62 77
=71 Rory Sweet Computer networks 50 62 51
=73 Michael Gregory Business Services 70 160 60
=73 David and
Richard Walters Civil eng. and
plant hire 122 54 69
75 Doreen Lofthouse Confectionery 190 34 17
76 James Barrett Steel 70 221 78
=77 Tim and
Robyn Jones Catering &
hotel services 20 51 96
=77 Charles Ritchie Industry 45 83 69
79 Ian Leith Aggregates 35 40 100
80 Peter and
Angela Cattee Pharmacies 54 99 65
81 Simon Preedy Industry 62 61 69
82 Kevin Doyle Leisure 50 47 104
83 Lord Tanlaw Industry 60 80 70
=84 Gulshen and
Asif Bhatia Hotels 75 42 61
=84 John Guest Industry 95 94 34
86 John and
Darren Donnelly Industry 58 92 64
87 Robert Senior Media 20 22 69
88 Stefan King* Leisure 72 33 37
89 Charles and
Betsan Partridge Industry 65 23 53
90 Dame Margaret
Barbour Fashion 72 54 50
91 Neil Patton* Construction 72 172 34
=92 Lewis Gray* Industry 68 93 48
=92 Charles Hudson Industry 40 17 54
94 Anne Ridgeon Builders' merchant 70 116 18
95 Robert and
Jonathan Mould Fabrics 43 49 32
96 David and
Betty Carr* Car sales 42 301 39
97 Denise Millard Car dealer 40 395 36
98 Trevor Storer Food production 54 25 19
=99 William Hughes Care homes 35 20 33
=99 Derrick Potter Transport 28 18 22

Rank Name No. of 5yr % Score**
employees rise in
employment
1 Peter Cullum 2,545 356 17
2 Ayman Asfari 7,482 713 29
3 Andrew Black and Ed Wray 906 512 32
4 Philip Richards and 81 350 33
Michael Alen-Buckley
5 Dr Mike Lynch 901 350 36
6 Simon Nixon 427 167 38
7 Laurence Graff 192 170 48
8 Matthew Brown 5,126 2,119 49
9 Mark Coombs 57 78 54
10 Chris Dawson 2,015 233 59
11 Sir David Murray 3,898 154 65
12 Mark Fitzgerald and 36 500 69
Thomas O'Donohue
13 Andrew and Sharon Turner 605 122 70
14 Charles Dunstone 19,805 143 75
=15 Tom Dalrymple 540 275 79
=15 Andrew and Paul Gower* 112 128 79
17 Gary Dutton 815 194 83
18 Sir Anwar Pervez 4,006 140 94
19 Shaf Rasul 55 77 95
20 Jane Cavanagh 897 1,502 99
=21 Surinder Arora 540 108 100
=21 Tim Mead 1,042 90 100
23 Martin Penny 151 372 106
24 Allen Timpany 726 157 107
25 John Williams 481 154 108
=26 Steve Brundle 393 251 109
=26 Geoff Salters and Joe Sloan 799 150 109
28 Stephen Haines 218 116 112
29 Farouq and Haroon Sheikh 1,144 119 113
=30 Tim and Kit Kemp 638 91 118
=30 Andrew and Anne Nisbet 433 68 118
32 Stewart Milne 1,400 59 119
33 Tony Langley 1,595 42 123
34 Christian Rucker and 756 151 124
Nick Wheeler*
=35 Eileen Gallagher 242 394 127
=35 Carly Read and Valerie Scott 798 192 127
37 Peter Hargreaves and 513 61 128
Stephen Lansdown
38 Mike Edge 118 30 129
39 Sir Anthony Bamford 6,300 35 131
40 Linda Bennett 600 99 132
41 Judy Craymer 16 23 133
42 Dean and Janet Hoyle* 1,847 155 136
=43 Lee Cottingham 491 136 141
=43 Sarah Tremellen 240 179 141
45 Mark and Mo Constantine 2,213 66 143
46 Hamish Ogston 1,572 29 144
=47 Alan Dunn 102 79 147
=47 Richard Harpin 4,312 38 147
49 David and Luisa Scacchetti 846 98 148
50 Robert Bianco 151 38 149
51 Emma Harrison 1,959 97 151
52 Robert Braithwaite 1,874 49 152
=53 Dawn Gibbins 289 126 153
=53 Neil McRoberts 278 43 153
=55 Shelagh Elkins 65 58 163
=55 Tony and Barbara Laithwaite 891 77 163
57 James Murray 308 81 164
58 Patrick Howard 250 43 165
59 Sir David McMurtry 2,095 33 168
=60 Alan Beardshaw 154 17 171
=60 Iain Burgess 201 73 171
62 Iain Liddell 172 70 178
63 Mustafa and Fatma Kiamil 609 121 179
64 Duncan Fletcher 1,100 59 183
=65 Alan and Ann Potts 117 95 186
=65 Bill Robertson 826 33 186
67 Colin Mustoe 851 44 187
68 Jeremy Woolridge 961 25 190
=69 Chey Garland 2,937 258 191
=69 Andrew Marr 247 48 191
=71 Chris Rea 935 73 192
=71 Rory Sweet 163 81 192
=73 Michael Gregory 1,579 44 194
=73 David and Richard Walters 258 5 194
75 Doreen Lofthouse 312 29 195
76 James Barrett 1,007 23 196
=77 Tim and Robyn Jones 1,385 75 197
=77 Charles Ritchie 908 53 197
79 Ian Leith 401 37 198
80 Peter and Angela Cattee 750 49 199
81 Simon Preedy 140 32 201
82 Kevin Doyle 808 14 205
83 Lord Tanlaw 680 19 211
=84 Gulshen and Asif Bhatia 499 13 216
=84 John Guest 1,201 16 216
86 John and Darren Donnelly 511 27 217
87 Robert Senior 314 58 220
88 Stefan King* 1,064 19 221
89 Charles and Betsan Partridge 163 14 230
90 Dame Margaret Barbour 537 4 231
91 Neil Patton* 503 11 232
=92 Lewis Gray* 619 10 235
=92 Charles Hudson 99 27 235
94 Anne Ridgeon 912 8 245
95 Robert and Jonathan Mould 275 23 247
96 David and Betty Carr* 760 17 249
97 Denise Millard 1,379 16 255
98 Trevor Storer 262 7 258
=99 William Hughes 906 7 269
=99 Derrick Potter 269 20 269
*Figures may be for less than five years **Total score is the sum of
rankings for wealth, five-year percentage rise in turnover and five-year
percentage rise in employment. The lower, the better.
Figures for turnover and employee numbers are drawn from latest accounts
filed at Companies House or supplied by the company.

METHODOLOGY
The Management Today Top 100 are ranked by three criteria:
1 Their own or their immediate family's asset wealth, which we identify
from their holdings in private or public companies, share sales,
dividends and salaries, plus any other assets that they have revealed to
us (Wealth column). 2 Percentage growth in turnover over the past five
years (or less if figures do not go back five years). We rank them on
the percentage growth rather than the actual growth, as this allows a
level playing-field for large and small companies. We do not measure
profits growth, as private and public companies have very different
approaches to declaring profits. Public companies try to maximize their
profits to please shareholders, whereas private companies tend to keep
their profits low to minimise tax liabilities. Even so, we keep a
careful eye on profits and avoid firms that may be building turnover at
the expense of profits (5yr % rise in turnover column). 3 The percentage
growth in the jobs they have created over the past five years. This is
designed to highlight our Top 100 entrepreneurs' hugely important role
as leading job creators in the private sector (5yr % rise in employment
column). Finally, we add up the figures for their rankings in those
three columns. The lowest score (which could theoretically be 3 for 1st
in all three) is the winner, and so on down to the 100th person on the
list. We have selected the 100 by applying a variety of criteria: to
achieve a good geographic spread, to find women entrepreneurs (still
sadly few) and those who are making good profits, but avoiding those
where there are warnings of deteriorating performance. Where a family
owns a company, we name the leading member - the entrepreneur - who has
built up the business.

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