Staffordshire business tycoons named in 2020 Rich List

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Staffordshire business tycoons worth more than a combined £22.6 billion have been named among the richest people in the UK.

The Coates family – who are the owners of gambling-giant bet365 – and JCB chairman Lord Bamford appear in The Sunday Times Rich List 2020, alongside Staffordshire-born philanthropists John Caudwell and Kirsty Bertarelli.

Ranking in 14th place – climbing one place since last year’s rankings – is Kirsty Bertarelli who, with her husband Ernesto, is worth £9.2 billion.

Mrs Bertarelli, who was born in Oulton near Stone and whose father and uncles owned pottery manufacturer Churchill China, is a multi-talented philanthropist and the fourth richest woman in the UK.

She was crowned Miss UK in 1988 and went on to land second place in the Miss World pageant.

Following that, she turned her efforts to the music industry and was later signed to Warner Records where she began writing music professionally.

Staffordshire-born singer Kirsty Bertarelli is the fourth richest woman in the UK

In 2000, she went on to have a number one single with ‘Black Coffee’ – a song she co-wrote with girl band All Saints.

That same year Kirsty married her Italian-born husband Ernesto, a Swiss businessman who owned biotech giant Serono until 2007.

Kirsty continued with her music career and was signed by Universal in 2009, and then Sony / ATV Music in 2012.

Close behind in 16th place – up from 19th place last year – are bet365 and Stoke City FC owners Denise, John and Peter Coates who are worth a combined £7.17 billion.

The ranking makes Denise Coates the fifth richest woman in the UK – and second in Staffordshire.

Bet365 started life two decades ago when Ms Coates took out a £15 million loan to launch the firm from a portable cabin in a car park.

The family had run Provincial Racing betting shops, but Denise had a vision to take the gambling online and in 2011, bet365.com was born.

In 2005, the new venture was so successful that Ms Coates went on to sell her chain of high street shops to Coral in a deal worth £40 million.

John Coates, Denise Coates and Peter Coates outside the bet365 head office in Stoke-on-Trent
John Coates, Denise Coates and Peter Coates outside the bet365 head office in Stoke-on-Trent

Today bet365 – which is headquartered in Stoke-on-Trent – employs over 4,300 staff. In 2018/19 the company turned over almost £3 billion a year and posted annual profits of around £767 million.

Denise’s father Peter, who is the chairman of Stoke City FC, was the son of a miner and became an entrepreneur, starting by running a catering business.

The Sunday Times reports: “bet365 has become a gambling goliath, with £2,044 a second wagered on its platforms in 2018-19.

“The Coates family owns 93.3 per cent of the business, launched from a prefab in a Stoke-on-Trent car park 20 years ago by Denise, 52, who has earned more than anyone else in the UK over recent years and topped our 2020 Tax List.

“She is bet365’s joint chief executive with her brother John, 50, while their father Peter, 82, is chairman, a role he also fills at Championship club Stoke City. She received £323m in salary dividends last year.”

JCB Chairman Lord Bamford is ranked 27th on this year’s Rich List – up from 33 in 2019.

Lord Anthony Bamford is best known for his position at the Staffordshire digger-maker, which is one of Britain’s most successful, family-owned businesses.

He was born in 1945, on the day his late father – Joseph Cyril Bamford CBE – set up JCB.

After leaving school and completing an apprenticeship at Massey Ferguson in France, he joined JCB on the shop floor in 1964, before moving into a management position.

He became chairman of the construction equipment manufacturer in 1975 and has presided over the prolific global expansion the brand.

Lord Bamford, chairman of JCB
Lord Bamford, chairman of JCB

A statement on JCB’s website, said: “Since becoming Chairman, he (Lord Bamford) has taken JCB from a one-factory operation in Staffordshire with a turnover of £43 million to a global business with 22 plants around the world employing over 15,000 people making over 300 different products.”

Lord Bamford has been recognised for many business achievements over the years and was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen in 1990.

He has also presided over JCB winning 30 Queen’s Awards for Innovation and Enterprise since the company’s first award in 1969 and in 2013, The Queen conferred the honour of a Life Peerage upon the JCB Chairman with Lord Bamford taking the formal title of Baron Bamford of Daylesford in the County of Gloucestershire and of Wootton in the County of Staffordshire.

And in 91st place – up £10 million and six places from 97th last year – is entrepreneur, business leader and philanthropist John Caudwell.

John grew up in Wellesley Street, in Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent and started his career as an engineering apprentice at tyre-giant Michelin.

While working at Michelin he also ran a corner shop and a mail order business selling clothing to motorcyclists.

John Caudwell
John Caudwell

In 1987 John – and his brother Brian – registered Midland Mobile Phones as a mobile phone wholesaler taking 26 Motorola mobiles at £1,350 each.

It took eight months to sell all 26 phones to plumbers, taxi drivers and television repairmen at a price of £2,000 each.

In 1996, John co-founded mobile phone retailer Phones4U before selling his wider business to a number of private equity firms in 2006.

He has since concentrated on his charity work including setting up Stoke-based Caudwell Children and Caudwell LymeCo, focusing on improving the lives of those with disabilities and Lyme disease.

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