The United Kingdom has long been a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity, and hundreds of thousands of people in Britain have achieved financial independence by way of starting their own businesses. Even among Britain’s many successful entrepreneurs, there’s always a small percentage of people that rise to the upper echelons of high net worth status.
Below is a list of the current top ten UK entrepreneurs, in order of net worth, from the lowest to the highest.
10. Peter Jones (Net Worth: $367 million)
Peter Jones is a well-known business tycoon and recent star of the popular BBC2 television series “Dragon’s Den“.
Peter has interests in several major industries such as television, mobile phones, travel/leisure, and real estate.
Jones obviously believes in “paying it forward” to some degree, as he recently persuaded former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown to create an academy in London for up-and-coming UK entrepreneurs.
9. Simon Cowell (Net Worth: $400 million)
Perhaps most famous for his brutal honesty during his tenure on the famous television show “American Idol” (and more recently with “X Factor”), Simon Cowell earned his fortune as a music executive and television producer. Cowell got his start working in the mail room of EMI Music Publishing, a company in which his father held an executive position. Simon managed to work his way up the ranks until he eventually broke away to form his own record label, E&S Music. After a wildly successful stint on American Idol, Cowell now owns a new record company known as Syco, along with its sister television production outfit, SycoTV.
The combined salaries of Simon’s various television and music ventures reportedly earns him a cool $95 million each year.
8. Duncan Bannatyne (Net Worth: $645 million)
Duncan Bannatyne is a perfect example of the classic rags-to-riches story. He started his first business with only $730, selling ice cream from a second-hand van. He eventually entered into the Bed & Breakfast and nursing home industry, subsequently developing over 30 such properties which he later sold for $42 million. He then took $36 million of the proceeds and entered into the fitness club arena. Bannatyne also purchased an 80% stake in the popular Just Learning child care franchise along the way, which he later sold after making $36 million from the investment.
Duncan now owns an empire of 40 spas and well over 60 health clubs, along with other assorted hotels and bars. He is also a devoted philanthropist, operating the Bannatyne Charitable Trust which supports over 25 different charities.
7. J.K. Rowling (Net Worth: $1 billion)
A Gloucestershire native, J.K. Rowling is most famous for authoring the immensely popular Harry Potter series of books, which later became immensely popular movies as well.
Rowling is the first author in history ever to achieve a net worth of $1 billion, and is currently one of the wealthiest private citizens in the UK.
6. Alan Sugar (Net Worth: $1.14 billion)
Popularly known as Lord Sugar and now Baron Sugar, Alan Sugar made his fortune in the consumer electronics industry, creating the popular computer brand known as Amstrad (short for “Alan Michael Sugar Trading“), which he later sold to BSkyB for roughly $187 million in July of 2007.
Amstrad presently owns a number of business interests including a digital signage company, a property investment company and an executive aviation company. Sugar recently achieved TV star status due to his role on the BBC reality series called “The Apprentice“, basically becoming the British equivalent of Donald Trump.
5. Laurence Graff (Net Worth: $4.3 billion)
Graff founded the world famous diamond jewelry business, Graff Diamonds, in 1960. He is intricately involved in every phase of the diamond business, from sourcing and mining the raw materials to cutting, polishing and marketing the finished product.
Graff occupies the number one spot in terms of the wealthiest diamond merchants in the UK.
4. James Dyson (Net Worth: $4.5 billion)
A phenomenal engineer and inventor by any standard, James Dyson has taken his passion for building a better vacuum cleaner to stratospheric heights, earning his fortune through innovative creations such as the Dual Cyclone and Dyson Ball vacuum cleaners.
With other technologically savvy inventions such as the blade-less fan and HEPA-filtered hand dryers to his credit, Dyson is far and away the wealthiest engineer in the UK.
3. Richard Branson (Net Worth: $4.6 billion)
A London native, Sir Richard Branson is CEO of the Virgin Group, a conglomerate of companies that includes Virgin Mobile, Virgin Airways and Virgin Megastores. He is known just as much for his exuberant and eccentric personality as he is for his extravagant wealth.
Richard Branson is also a noted philanthropist, having donated hundreds of millions of dollars to various charitable and environmentally conscious causes.
2. Philip Green (Net Worth: $5 billion)
Philip Green is the current CEO of Arcadia Group, a conglomeration of various popular retail companies including British Home Stores, Topshop, and Dorothy Perkins. Green struck out on his own at an early age, quitting school at the age of fifteen to begin working as a shoes importer. His hands-on training in the art of international trade served him well in later ventures, including a jeans importing business in which he worked with major London retailers to move his products.
Philip Green eventually began buying various clothing and retail chain stores, which earned him the bulk of his multi-billion dollar fortune.
1. David and Simon Reuben (Net Worth: $5.53 billion)
The individuals holding the top spot on the list of the UK’s wealthiest entrepreneurs are the Reuben brothers, both self-made billionaires from several diversified industries.
Born in India to a Jewish-Iraqi family, David and Simon Reuben started their lives in abject poverty, but a move to London in 1950 sparked entrepreneurial ambitions in the hearts of both brothers. David started out in the scrap metal trading business, while his brother Simon managed to buy out England’s oldest carpet company after working for years in the carpet industry. They leveraged their earnings in these businesses to invest in property as well as other raw materials businesses (e.g., aluminum, copper, etc.).
The Reuben brothers are fiercely private about their wealth, and are well-known for being somewhat elusive, even to the point of skipping out on dinners and parties in which they are the hosts.