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The richest in the Northeast

Regional rank



Name2019 wealthWealth increase/


1Mike Ashley£1.976bnDown £461m
2Ellis Short£860mDown £140m
3Mark Fenwick and family£700mDown £30m
4Alastair and Michael Powell£515mUp £90m
5Peter Stephenson and family£468mDown £15m
6The Duke of Northumberland£419mUp £37m
7Dame Margaret and Helen Barbour and family£395mUp £40m
8Duncan Bannatyne£300mUp £20m
9Steve Gibson£210mUp £15m
10Sting£200mUp £10m
11Phil Cronin and family£190mUp £37m
12Sir Peter Vardy and family£187mDown £10m
13=Michael Cannon£170mNo change
13=Graham Wylie£170mUp £10m
15Raj Sehgal and Sanjeev Mehan and family£163mUp £3m
16Stuart Monk and family£159mUp £17m
17Chai Patel£154mUp £4m
18Jonathan Ruffer£151mDown £274m
19Duncan Davidson and family£149mDown £26m
20Carol Kane£141mUp £21m

Ellis Short’s expensive tenure of Sunderland has cost him his billionaire status, according to the new edition of The Sunday Times Rich List, to be published this Sunday, May 12. The 156-page special edition of The Sunday Times Magazine reveals the wealth of the 1,000 richest people in Britain in its 31st annual edition.

Short, 58, sees his fortune slump by £140m after agreeing to walk away from Sunderland and wipe out debts of at least £116.7m, according to the latest club accounts. He left the club in 2018 after a second successive relegation into League One.

Short poured in at least £200m into the former Premier League club during his nine-year stint at the helm. Short is now worth £860m, down £340m in two years.

Another football club owner has seen his wealth dramatically decline over the past year. Travelling in the same direction as Short is Newcastle United chairman, Mike Ashley, who remains the region’s richest man and its sole billionaire with a fortune of £1.976bn, down £461m on last year, thanks in no small part to the £150m he lost when Debenhams collapsed last month, taking Ashley’s 30% stake in the business with it. The tycoon was left fuming when banks and other creditors assumed control of Debenhams, costing Ashley every penny he poured into the ailing department store chain, and he has since threatened legal action.

His football club Newcastle United is still up for sale. Despite going on the market as far back as October 2017, a deal to sell the club has not yet been reached and he faces delicate negotiations to keep manager Rafa Benitez at the club beyond the end of his contract in June.

Ashley’s main source of wealth is his Sports Direct business, the value of which has dropped to £1.54bn from a peak of £5bn in 2014, with his personal stake now worth £939.4m. While he remains a deeply divisive figure, he has emerged as a champion of the high street in the past 12 months, criticising business rates and demanding a tax for online ventures, while at the same time buying up House of Fraser, Evans Cycles and Sofa.com. The 54-year-old’s wealth remains well down on the £3.75bn he reached five years ago.

The owner of the region’s third major football club, Middlesbrough, also features on the Northeast Rich List. Steve Gibson, the club’s long-standing owner, moves up to ninth in the region, with a fortune of £210m – up £15m – mostly tied up in his Bulkhaul tank transport operation.

Robert Watts, the Compiler of The Sunday Times Rich List, said: “A lot of people say the rich only ever getter richer, but our Northeast Rich List shows that isn’t always true.

“Turbulence on the stock market, political deadlock over Brexit and the cyclone of change sweeping through our high streets has hammered the wealth of some of the region’s super-rich.

“Around a third of the North East’s super-rich have seen their wealth fall since last year – a higher proportion than other parts of the UK.

“It’s easy to think this doesn’t matter to the rest of us. But if a bad year encourages these tycoons to shrink their businesses the implications can be big for our communities.”

The Fenwicks were forced to close stores in Windsor and Leicester last year, which cost more than 400 people their jobs, but the family remain in third place on the Northeast Rich List, despite a £30m fall in their wealth. Profits in the business plunged from £30.4m to just £2m in 2017-18, although the company still managed to pay a £5.1m dividend to the owning family. Mark Fenwick, 71 yesterday, stood down as chairman in 2017 and was the fifth generation to run the Newcastle upon Tyne empire, which was founded in 1882.

A more immediately successful retail story is headed up by Carol Kane, who co-founded Boohoo.com with her business partner Mahmud Kamani in 2006. Since then, the fashion “etailer” has become phenomenally popular with 16 to 24-year-olds, driven by Kane’s “fashion for all” philosophy, with plus-size models promoting figure-hugging bodycon dresses up to size 26.  Newcastle upon Tyne-born Kane left school at 18 and by 20 was working in Hong Kong’s fashion industry. In her mid-twenties she joined Kamani, who had a fashion venture in Manchester supplying retailers such as New Look and Primark. From there, Boohoo was born, and the Manchester-based company is worth £2.78bn after floating in 2014. Joint chief executive Kane’s 4.03% stake is worth £112m, and the 52-year-old earned nearly £893,000 from the firm in 2017-18, including a bonus of £575,000.

Jonathan Ruffer’s fall from the top five in last year’s Northeast Rich List to 18th this year remarkably propels him to the top of another ranking: The Sunday Times Giving List. While a decline in wealth of £274m indicates the opposite, Ruffer, 67, has actually had a very successful year. Funds at his London-based Ruffer investment business rose to £21bn and profits were nearly £138m. He owned just over half of the £775m operation until last year, when he donated 35% of it to charity. This transfer of £271m to his charity, which is bankrolling  the regeneration of Bishop Auckland, together with additional charitable spending last year, means Ruffer has given away more than twice the amount he is now worth in the past year.

Dame Margaret and Helen Barbour and family are up £40m to £395m. Their trademark wax jackets, pioneered by Scottish founder John Barbour, have been sported on-screen by Daniel Craig in the James Bond film, Skyfall, and are also popular with members of the royal family, including the Duchess of Sussex .The brand is today quintessentially English, run by Dame Margaret, 79, and her daughter Helen, 52. Former teacher Margaret took over the South Shields business after her husband, John Barbour, great-grandson of the founder, died aged 29 in 1968. The Barbour Beacon range was introduced last year for younger buyers, and profits have risen to £33.4m on sales of £202.3m. The family foundation finances the Women’s Fund, which helps women within Tyne and Wear and Northumberland develop their potential.

The 2019 Sunday Times Rich List – contained in a 156-page special edition of The Sunday Times Magazine – is the definitive guide to wealth in the United Kingdom, published on Sunday, May 12. It charts the wealth of the 1,000 richest people in the UK. The list is based on identifiable wealth, including land, property, other assets such as art and racehorses, or significant shares in publicly quoted companies. It excludes bank accounts, to which the paper has no access. The magazine includes several interviews and features, focused on some of the leading players and personalities among the richest 1,000, as well as a full ranking by order of wealth.  The Young Rich List details the 50 individuals with the biggest fortunes aged 30 or under.

The Sunday Times Rich List is compiled by Robert Watts. The complete list will be available to the paper’s digital subscribers and will be online at thesundaytimes.co.uk/richlist2019