I am not . I , truly am not . I am not envious of wealth or rather enormous wealth. I would like a bit , it goes without saying, but I am intrigued by enormous wealth. The easiest way for me to indulge in that intrigue is by looking at The Times Newspaper Annual Rich List.
I can easily swat aside those who say ‘of course you would want to fabulously wealthy’. I really couldn’t handle all the crap that goes with it. When you reach a point that you don’t know how many properties you own, or how many cars sit in your underground garages and making sure that every second of your day is covered by sufficient security and whether your family is safe, what is the point ? Perhaps that is part of the problem . Money no longer has a value, it is purely all about numbers and they are driven by that thought of continually upping the numbers . I digress, but only a bit.
Within the Rich list there is a whole bunch of guys and gals ( mainly guys) with heaps of money . During the Pandemic (2020) their combined wealth grew by 22%. I suppose it is not entirely surprising as this bunch of happy bunnies will own and control a greater many resources and when things are tough and resources or access to them becomes tough so their value increases exponentially.
Whilst there are the obvious players such Abramovich, Blavatnik, Dyson , The Hinduja family, there is a group of players who I class as the much ado about nothing, or rather their fortune is built on nothing tangible. I will return to this after taking a pokey at the retailers that still remain in the list . There being a good number, both in terms of bricks and mortar and online.
Bricks & Mortar
Stephen Rubin- £6+billion . family owned Pentland Group amongst the Group are brands such as Kickers, Speedo, Berghaus and a big junk of JD Sports.
Weston Family -£11+billion ,Primark and Selfridges to name but two
Tom Morris £4+billion -Home & Bargain Discount Stores
Mike Ashley £1.9+ -billion Sports Direct
Bernard Lewis £1.9 Billion-River Island
Will Adderley £1.78 billion -Dunelm
Jonas & Mathias Kamprad £1.74 billion -Ikea- Admittedly inherited but they are London based
Chris Dawson -£2+billion -The Range
The Arora Bros £2.5 billion -B&M Stores
Mahmud Kamani £1.4+ billion -Boohoo
Tim Steiner £625 million – Ocado
Alex Chesterman £750 million – Cazoo
I haven’t included those whose operations no longer exist such the worlds favourite retailer Mr Green and Arcadia. But it is surprising, in terms of retail , in the UK, the wealthiest are those with bricks and mortar…… for the moment.
The two wealthiest in the world are both retailers- One primarily stores(but not exclusively) – the other needs no explanation.
No 1 The Walton Family (yes the family that were constantly on our TV’s several years ago -err no actually the owners of Walmart ) £166 Billion.
No 2 Jeff Bezos, soon to be Rocket man, the founder of Amazon £128 billion.
Here’s an illustration of how not bad 2020 was for some…..
The last column on the right illustrates how they ‘suffered’ (Times Rich List- My words ‘suffered’ – not theirs).
But all that, is not what irks me . I have no issue with wealth creation, I have a problem with The Much Ado’s
There are, of course the Peskie Ruskies or more accurately , as they are not all Russian, former Soviets. The Abramoviches, Usmanov, German Khan(actually Ukrainian), Michael Fridman and a whole bunch more whose original assets were obtained by dubious means . It is the wealth that is created by legal but by not creating anything but confidence or analysed and calculated hope . By that I mean people believing that an idea is going to work even though the idea is not even an actuality . For example Denis Sverdlov whose British Manufacturing company of electric vehicles is worth £8.1 billion and not a vehicle has yet been made. This, in itself, is no bad thing if indeed the vehicle is made and successful . But Elon Musk who has been making vehicles for some time, has become one of the worlds richest men without yet making a profit ( I know he made a load of dosh via PayPal, but not through Tesla apart from its share price). Alex Chesterman, Cazoo fame (online car selling platform) , a loss making operation to date was valued at £5 billion on the New York Stock Exchange. It has yet to sell 20,000 cars.
Then there is the readily available lines of credit . Readily ,often for those who don’t need it, but sparse for those that do. There are the Issa brothers, for example, who raised £6.8 Billion , and contributed £780 million to buy Asda. I don’t want to start on cryptocurrency. A concept understood by few, creates nothing tangible, yet (in the case of Bitcoin) has increased in value by over 400% even with having fallen back from its peak. The latest wealth creator being digital art . where has that come from or rather where has the value come from?
it all leads to whole bunch of guys that actually don’t contribute a lot in terms of products, services, or indeed anything useful yet in doing their Much about doing nothing, are worth a ‘elluva lot. At very least Charles Ponzi and Bernard Madoff grafted at being thieving bastards.