Whisky tycoons remain Scotland’s richest

Billionaire whisky tycoons Glenn Gordon and family have been named Scotland’s richest family for the sixth year in a row.

Whisky tycoons remain Scotland's richest

Rising profits for the family business William Grant & Sons, which is behind the famous Glenfiddich and Hendrick’s Gin brands, has seen its owners maintain their top spot on the Scottish Rich List, compiled by the Sunday Times.

The distillery group, which also produces Grant’s, Glenfiddich and The Balvenie, is run by the founder’s great-great-grandson Glenn Gordon.

Mr Gordon, who is registered as a resident of Jersey, has overseen a £310 million increase in the family’s wealth in the last year, with profits up by 14.4 per cent at their Banffshire–based distillery.

His family has more than doubled their wealth in six years, up from £1.4 billion in 2013 to £2.9 billion, according to the paper.

People with Scottish connections account for 82 of the 1,000 richest people in Britain, it said, including 11 billionaires worth a combined £17.245 billion – a rise of £1.038 billion in the last year.

Robert Watts, compiler of The Sunday Times Rich List, said: “Many Rich Listers are this year nursing big losses due to the uncertainty over Brexit, turbulence on the stock market and the enormous change sweeping through our high streets.

“But more than half of our Scottish Rich List have seen their fortunes rise over the past 12 months – that’s a higher proportion than other parts of the UK.”

Oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood rises up a rank in the Scottish top 20 to take second place this year thanks to a £51m increase in wealth. He retains a 0.9 per cent stake, worth £33.7m, in Wood, which he founded and ran for 50 years before retiring in 2012.

Sir Ian also saw profits of £3.3m at his JW Holdings fishing operation which had £22.7m of assets in 2017. His pub and hotel interests have shown strong performances too. Beyond the boardroom, Wood continues as Chancellor of Robert Gordon University, his 15th year, and the family’s foundation paid out £40m to charitable projects in northeast Scotland, other parts of the UK and Africa.

Wood isn’t the only big giver in the Top 20, however. Ranked sixth, siblings Trond Mohn and Marit Mohn Westlake donated £25m to Imperial College London last year, funding research into childhood diseases. After selling their family company Framo, a manufacturer of cargo pumps, in 2014 for £1.1bn, the pair became renowned for their benevolent donations, and are Scotland’s biggest risers this year thanks to an increase in wealth of £602m.

A non-mover in fifth place, Bahrain-born Mahdi al-Tajir saw falling profits of £3.3m in 2017 at his Highland Spring mineral water operation. Previously working as an ambassador to Britain for the United Arab Emirates, al-Tajir, 87, has built up his UK interests in industries such as metal trading, gas and oil. His city-based Drift Properties has an extensive portfolio including a Perth and Kinross estate next to the Gleneagles hotel, and despite his £10m decrease in wealth, his three companies have assets totaling £266m.

Up by £49m this year, the Thomson family continues the success of the Beano, the world’s oldest weekly comic, by taking it on a 40 theatre UK tour with the infamous Dennis the Menace and hound Gnasher finding their voices in a musical. A Minnie the Minx television series is also in development. Originally a family shipping firm, the Dundee-based publisher, DC Thomson, is responsible for a number of publications including the Evening Telegraph and has assets worth £1.26bn.

From bus conductor to knight of the realm, Sir Brian Souter and sister Dame Ann Gloag saw their stake in transport operation Stagecoach rise by £37.2m to £243.4m in the last year. Having founded the company in the 1980s, the siblings have seen their wealth increase by £50m in the last year ranking them 12th in the Scottish Rich List.

Souter keeps his wealth in Souter Investments, with assets of £315.1m in 2017-18. His sister, who became a Dame for her services to philanthropy, operates firm Gloag Investments Group, which showed £112.6m of assets during the same period. Despite the Government barring Stagecoach from three rail franchises this year, accusing the firm of breaching pension rules, the siblings continue to profit and have given £12m to charity in support of social, medical and religious causes between them.

Outside of the billionaires, Ian Taylor, who chairs the world’s largest independent oil trader, Vitol, is Scotland’s second highest riser this year with an increase of £565m in wealth. Taylor, 63, stepped down last year as Chief Executive of the firm, which trades 7m barrels of oil a day. Whilst his holding in the company is undisclosed, as little as a 5% stake in the organisation would have a value of £750m.

The 31st edition of the Sunday Times Rich List is published on Sunday (May 12).

The top 10 richest people in Scotland in 2019, according to the Sunday Times Rich List, their industry, and their wealth:

Whisky tycoons remain Scotland's richest


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