One of the West Midlands’ most well-known businessmen has received a prestigious honour.
Sir Peter Rigby has been awarded France’s Chevalier of the Legion d’honneur in recognition of his services to the French economy and promoting strong business relations between the country and the UK.
The company he founded in 1975, Stratford-based Rigby Group, has business interests in a host of different fields including real estate, tech, aviation and finance, notably as owner of Coventry Airport and Birmingham-headquartered IT group SCC.
Sir Peter’s French business operations began with the establishment of SCC there with just two staff in 1998 and now sees the company employ some 3,300 people at 23 city locations across France.
His group businesses in the country turned over €2 billion in the 2020/21 financial year.
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One of the West Midlands’ wealthiest people, he was placed 12th on the 2020 Birmingham Post Rich List with an estimated fortune of £980 million.
Rigby Group now employs more than 8,500 people across 20 countries in Europe and the Middle East with revenue of around £3 billion.
The 77-year-old joins a long list of famous foreign recipients of the Legion d’honneur including musician Sir Paul McCartney, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda and F1 team boss Frank Williams.
The honour is most commonly awarded to members of the international military, is only occasionally awarded to non-French nationals and is the nation’s highest order of merit.
Sir Peter’s citation praised his ongoing commitment to maintaining positive cross border business relations, saying: “In bestowing this decoration, France recognises your important contribution to the French economy and your effort to reinforce business relations between our two countries.”
Sir Peter, who was knighted in 2022, received his award at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris.
He said: “I have always passionately believed in the importance of building positive relationships with neighbours and colleagues beyond the UK’s borders and am both grateful and deeply honoured by my appointment to the Legion d’honneur.
“It has been a great privilege to be able to see the birth of our business in France through to its present position and I’m also grateful to the many good people and the senior management who have helped to make the company what it is today.
“I see this great honour not simply as recognition for myself but for the company and the team who’ve helped create and develop our business into what it has become today.”
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street added: “Sir Peter’s brilliance as a businessman has never been in doubt but what has always struck me is his incredible social responsibility and the pride he feels in his home region.
“The very best businessmen and women understand that their work can be a force for good and Sir Peter absolutely embodies that.
“His work in France is no different and he is an incredibly deserving recipient of the Legion d’honneur.”