UK: Ups and downs of Thatcherism - the corporate winners and losers. (3 of 5)

UK: Ups and downs of Thatcherism - the corporate winners and losers. (3 of 5) -

by
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Winners (continued)

Ken Scowcroft (insurance): 1979 £10m; 1990 £147m.

Mancunian Ken Scowcroft pioneered the sale of motor insurance through high street shops. His broking group, Swinton, founded in 1957, now has 729 outlets nationwide. Over the past three years Scowcroft, whose son and daughter also work for the group, has gradually sold 75% of Swinton to Sun Alliance for a total of £105 million.

Sir Donald Gosling (car parks): 1979 £10m; 1990 £145m.

When Donald Gosling left the Navy in 1949, he became a trainee surveyor with Westminster City Council. A chance encounter with former soldier Ronald Hobson, who wanted to know how to get planning permission for a car park on one of London's many bomb sites, led to the birth of National Car Parks. The two are still together. Now one of Britain's largest private companies, NCP has a turnover of over £151 million.

John Asprey (jewellery): 1979 £8m; 1990 £113m.

After 200 years supplying jewellery and expensive knick-knacks to the wealthy, the Asprey company has proved largely immune to economic downturn. Chairman John Asprey last year merged the company with Mappin and Webb, but retained majority control. In 1989/90 profits were £21.9 million on sales of £75.3 million.

Lord Rothermere (publishing): 1979 £12m, 1990 £105m.

Fleet Street's last hereditary newspaper baron, Viscount Rothermere, has carved a dominant position in the middle market of the British press with the Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday. Through his controlling stake in Daily Mail and General Trust, Rothermere is enjoying the benefits of increased profitability resulting from the papers' lower cost base.

Anita Roddick (niche retailing): 1984 £1.4m; 1990 £81m.

Anita and Gordon Roddick's Body Shop is a rare thing - a 1980s niche retailer that has survived. While its peers succumbed to high interest rates and slower consumer spending, The Body Shop, with no debt, continued to meet the public's demand for natural, environmentally friendly products. Founded in Brighton in 1976, the chain had 400 stores worldwide by 1990, over half of them overseas.

Beckwith brothers (property): 1979 £7m; 1990 £80m.

Peter and John Beckwith set up London and Edinburgh Trust in 1971, in time to suffer the 1973/74 property crash. But, their debts paid, they took off again and rode the '80s boom in commercial property. In April 1990, as the downturn deepened, they sold LET to Swedish life assurance giant SSP for £550 million, pocketing £40 million each and staying on to run the company.

Peter de Savary (property and trading): 1979 under £1m; 1990 £75m.

With his huge cigars and luxury yacht, Peter de Savary looks every inch the tycoon. Yet when Mrs Thatcher came to power he was virtually unknown. But with money which he made from oil trading in Nigeria, a series of quick-fire deals and massive development work in Cornwall, he has built a fortune of around £75 million.

Trevor Hemmings (brewing): 1979 under £1m; 1990 £70m.

Builder Trevor Hemmings first met holiday camp king Sir Fred Pontin in 1967. Their partnership prospered. In 1987 he organised a £57 million management buyout of Pontins, then owned by Bass. Two years later he sold it to Scottish and Newcastle, netting a cool £70 million in shares. He now holds over 5% of S and N's equity.

Tony Clegg (property): 1979 under £1m; 1990 £70m.

A tough northerner, Tony Clegg built up his Mountleigh group in the 1970s and 1980s by working 18-hour days on multi-million pound property deals. But ill health led him to cash in his 22.6% stake for £70 million in late 1989 and he retired to the Yorkshire Dales to tend his Highland cattle. The quiet life obviously palled: he is said to be making a comeback.

Earl of Iveagh (brewing): 1979 £1m; 1990 £40m.

Despite the Ernest Saunders scandal, the Earl of Iveagh and the Guinness family did well out of him. Up to the infamous Distillers bid, Saunders did much to revive the brewing group's fortunes and expand its activities. Now under Anthony Tennant, both brewing and spirits are performing well.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime