Drinks industry tycoons feature on Sunday Times Rich List

A number of drinks industry tycoons have dropped down the Sunday Times Rich list this year due to a fall in their fortunes over the past 12 months, accelerated more recently by the challenges posed by Covid-19. 

Many of Britain’s wealthiest people have lost billions due to coronavirus, and this includes those made rich from a number drinks businesses. Tycoons that have dropped down the list of the most rich in the country are linked to various drinks businesses - including Heineken, ABInbev, Guinness, Fever-Tree and Scotch blender Angus Dundee.

Further down the list some of those linked to drinks businesses have moved up the list. These businesses include William Grant, Casamigos Spirits Company, Diageo, Majestic Wine, Ian Macleod Distillers, Laithwaite’s Wine, Gordon & MacPhail and Hall & Woodhouse. Executives linked to SHS Group, Whyte & Mackay and Brewdog held the same positions as in 2019.

The drinks industry is represented by one position in the top ten on the Rich List this year: Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken and Michel de Carvalo; although the duo have dropped from seven to nine in the list and have therefore just scaped a position within the Top Ten. 

The pair earned their money from inheritance, brewing and banking. They are worth £10.3 billion, a drop of £1.7billion on 2019. The Amsterdam-based Heineken also owns Amstel, Bulmers Cider, Tiger, Red Stripe, Strongbow and Newcastle Brown Ale and it has a stockmarket value of £39.5billion, down £8.2 billion in the year.

Glen Gordon and family sit at number 49, up from 54 last year. Worth £319billion (up by £304 million), fifth generation Gordon is the great-great-grandson of William Grant, who founded the distiller in 1887. The portfolio includes Grant’s whisky, Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Hendrick’s Gin as well as brands such as Icelandic vodka Reyka and Milagro tequila. Profits grew by £304million last year.

At position 69 is Alejandro Santo Domingo and Lady Charlotte Wellesley, who made their money from inheritance, brewing and investment. The pair are worth £2.031billion, which is a drop of £804million in the past year. Santo Domingo owns 1.7% of ABInbev following the merger of SAB Miller with Anheuser-Busch, a deal he helped set up in 2016, which is also the year he married Wellesley. His stake is worth about £1.14billion, down £490 million in a year. He inherited the beer fortune built by his late father Julio Mario, and he also owns 20% of the famous Bordeaux winery Chateau Petrus.

Another beer-related fortune is represented at 158 on the list with the Earl of Iveagh and the Guinness family. The position is down from last year’s 152 as their £906million fortune dropped by £67million in the year. Iveagh inherited £62million of Guinness shares and an undisclosed stake in producer Diageo, and his stake is now worth £300 million, according to the list.

Vivian Imerman is positioned at 340 with a £390million fortune from his company Vasari Beverages. Imerman and his ex brother-in-law Robert Tchenguiz, took full control of Scottish whisky group Whyte & Mackay in 2001, netting Imerman £396million when it was sold in 2007. Vasari has holdings in various food and drink businesses across the world including Ethiopian beer Dashen and South African wine and spirits operation KMV.

At 448 Charles Rolls is worth £298 million for his Fever-Tree mixer brand. The company dropped £125million over the past year and his position is down from 316 in 2019. Rolls launched the company in 2004 with Tim Warrillow and the company is valued at £1.22 billion. Its stock started falling towards the end of last year, before the coronavirus crisis.

Rolls announced his retirement last month as non-executive deputy chairman has he sold a holding of £254million since the 2014 float. He retains a stake of £86.1 million. Tim Warrilow holds the position of 972 on the list and is estimated to be worth £123 million.

Amal and George Clooney are valued at £275million and are positioned at 474 on the list. Part of their fortune comes from drinks, and the Sunday Times said “it was tequila that really supercharged his finances”. Clooney earned his fortune from selling the Casamigos spirits company he set up in 2013 with Mike Meldman and Rande Gerber. Diageo bought the business and Clooney is believed to have made about £182 million from the deal, with a further £78million from the brand expected to arrive over a 10-year period.

Brewdog’s James Watt is at 495 on the list, worth £262million. He set up the craft beer and pub group business with school friend Martin Dickie and in 2017 a US private equity group paid £213million for a 22% stake in the operation. Watt’s stake is believed to be worth £242million. Martin Dickie is also on the list, at position 537, and he is worth an estimated £228million. 

John Apthorp and family own 15% of the shares in Majestic Wine and its acquisition last year for £95million delivered a windfall for Apthorp and his family. The Sunday Times estimates the family’s worth at an estimated £248 million based on Majestic Wines (£38million of Majestic stock was offloaded in two tranches) and also through the sales of Apthorp’s Bejam frozen food firm to Iceland, which netted him £70million.

At 601 is another spirits-related fortune. Leonard Russell and family are worth £202million (up £50million on 2019 and up from position 775). Russell is managing director of Ian Macleod Distillers, the maker of Edinburgh Gin as well as Glengoyne, Smokehead, Tamdhu and King Robert II whiskies. He is the third generation of his family to run the company.

David McMullen and family sits at 684 on the list, with a fortune of £181million, up £8million since 2019 (and a jump from 694 on the list last year). The McMullens have been brewing on the same site for nearly 200 years and they made Stronghart, Cask and other drinkers, as well as operating pubs across the country.

Tony and Barbara Laithwaite, linked to their eponymous wine retailer Laithwaite’s Wine, are worth £164 million, a jump of £1million on 2019. Laithwaite opened Bordeaux Direct in 1970 which later became Laithwaite’s Wine. Today the company offers 1,500 wines to about 750,000 customers, with “a big part of the Laithwaites’ success down to supplying The Sunday Times Wine Club.

At 774 is Aaron and Tania Hillman and family, worth £158million (down £19million since 2019). Angus Dundee has more than 60 years’ experience in the production, blending and distribution of fine Scotch and other spirits and in 2000 it bought the mothballed Tomintoul facility on Speyside from Jim Beam, and in 2003 it bought Glencadem from Allied Distillers.

Angus Dundee is majority-owned by Terry Hillman, a former Burn Stewart whisky executive, and run by his children Aaron and Tania, who have a combined stake of more than 20%.

The success of SHS Group has helped Brenda Salters and family reach 799 on the list with a fortune of £152million. The Belfast-based group owns Schloer, Bottlegreen, Merrydown Cider and WKD. Salters and her family own a 50% stake. Co-owner Joe Sloan is at 799 on the list, worth an estimated £152million. The Sloans hold the other 50% stake.

At 858 is the Urquhart family, worth £140 million (up £15million on 2019). The family owe their fortune to drinks and clothing, or more specifically malt whisky and cashmere. It has the Gordon & MacPhail spirits operation, which dates back to 1895, and the company is in the process of building a new distillery on the banks of the Spey. Stuart Urquhart is the fourth generation of the family to run the firm and Neil Urquhart also serves on the board.

Another brewing fortune is represented at 876 on the list by Anthony Woodhouse and family, chairman of his family’s Dorset-based Brewing and pub group Hall & Woodhouse. The company has a number of pubs and also the Badger beers including Fursty Ferret, Tangle Foot and Golden Champion.

Woodhouse and the Urquart family joined the Rich List (of 1,000 people) for the first time last year. 

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