SCOTLAND’S rich are getting richer as the rest of the country continues to struggle economically, the latest list of the UK’s wealthiest people has revealed.
A record number of Scots billionaires appears in this year’s Sunday Times UK rich list, which includes a total of 78 people from Scotland in its top 1,000, the most to feature in a decade.
Scotland’s economy outperformed the rest of the UK in the final three months of 2012, growing by 0.5 per cent compared with a contraction of 0.3 per cent for Britain as a whole.
But over the past year, the most affluent Scots saw their personal wealth soar by up to 58 per cent, with water, oil and whisky helping to fund their fortunes.
There are now six billionaires from north of the Border on the list, one more than in 2012.
The top two places in Scotland’s rich league remain unchanged.
Highland Spring owner Mahdi al-Tajir is still Scotland’s richest man, and the 44th wealthiest in the UK, now boasting a fortune of £1,656m thanks to his interests in metals, oil and water and up £56 million on 2012.
Profits may have fallen for Banffshire distiller William Grant in 2011, but sales hit record levels and whisky is continuing to serve the Grant and Gordon family well after five generations in the spirit business. They remain in second place on the list with family wealth totalling £1,400m.
In third spot on Scotland’s list, up one from last year, is Sir Ian Wood, the 70-year-old former chairman of Aberdeen-based Wood group, who retired in October having turned the small family-owned fishing business he took over in 1964 into a £3 billion oil services giant. His personal wealth now stands at £1,200m.
Internet site Friends Reunited has helped Sunday Post publishers DC Thomson maintain a strong media position, and a change in the way the Sunday Times recorded its figures means the Dundee family now claims fourth place in Scotland’s rich list with their wealth recorded as £1,100m, up £400m on the figure reported last year.
Alastair Salvesen of Glasgow-based plant hire firm Aggreko and engineering magnate Jim McColl, owner of Clyde Blowers, take the fifth and sixth Scottish billionaire spots respectively.
A new entry in the Scottish list, having seen his fortune soar by 88 per cent to £150m over the year, is David Roberts – a Greenock-born commercial property developer and the man behind the philanthropic David Roberts Arts foundation in London.
The son of a shipyard worker, Roberts, who boasts a collection of more than 2,000 works by artists including Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol and Tracey Emin, saw his Edinburgh House Estates operation make profits of £4.7m last year.
But his art collection and other assets increased by a total of £70m, propelling him into Scotland’s rich list at number 31 and making him the 522 wealthiest man in Britain.
Also enjoying a huge rise in fortune is Farmfoods chief Eric Herd, at No 16, whose wealth has increased 58 per cent in a year to £253m, up £93m and a more than fivefold increase since 2009.
In 1988, Mr Herd and his brother, Gordon, inherited the frozen food business, founded in Aberdeen in 1955, from their father, and the Cumbernauld-based group has grown from 30 stores to more than 300.
Ian Coxon, the rich list editor, said: “The 2013 rich list shows that business is booming in Scotland from Aberdeen to Ayr. The good news for the country’s economy is that much of the £21bn of wealth accrued by the top 100 millionaires has been made by generating worldwide demand for Scottish products and know how.”
It’s not all business tycoons in the list of Scotland’s wealthiest 100, the assets of Colin and Chris Weir, at No 24 with £160m, and Adrian and Gillian Bayford, in 35th place with £149m, are down to lottery wins.
However, the list highlights a major gender imbalance when it comes to wealth in Scotland, with Harry Potter author Joanne Rowling still at ninth place with £560m, and soup queen Audrey Baxter at No 45 with £122m, the only solo women to make it on to the list.
Rowling’s position and wealth appear unchanged from last year, partly due to her donations to charity. She has given more than £100m since her writing success, including £10m to the Anne Rowling Clinic, a neurological centre named after her mother which opened in
Edinburgh in January.
Some Scottish women appear on the list in partnership with their husbands – or in the case of Ann Gloag, her brother Brian Souter. The Stagecoach siblings, at No 8, have amassed a fortune of £730m between them, an increase of £65m on 2012.
Women top of table for young musicians
She may have some way to go to equal Paul McCartney’s £680 million fortune, or Elton John’s £240m, but Scottish singer Emeli Sande’s arrival as a new entry into the Sunday Times’ young musician rich list signifies the irrepressible rise to power of the female singer-songwriter as it emerged that the majority of Britain’s richest young musicians are women.
Adele, 24, tops the chart with a £30m fortune, up £10m from last year: an increase no doubt boosted by her Academy Award-winning Bond theme tune Skyfall.
Cheryl Cole, with £14m, claims second place and Leona Lewis and Katie Melua sit at third with £12m each.
Sande, who enjoyed a remarkable year performing at the opening and closing ceremonies of the London Olympics and winning best British female and album prizes at this year’s Brit awards, claims joint 17th spot with £5m.
The Sunderland born, Aberdeenshire-raised singer is now the 54th richest person in Britain aged 30 or younger.
The dominance of individual women singers in the under-30s music rich list, contrasts sharply with the main music millionaires table which is overwhelmingly male, and reflects the former glory days of bands, with the surviving Beatles members, U2 (£520m), and Rolling Stones Sir Mick Jagger (£200m) and Keith Richards (£185m), all appearing in the top 20.
The only female singer-songwriter to make it into the main music millionaires top 50 is Enya, at number 35 with £87m.