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Top 10 richest Brits in drinks: 2017

This weekend The Sunday Times Rich List revealed the wealthiest people currently based in the UK. Here, we count down those that have made their fortune from the drinks industry.

The 1,000 strong list features the 130 billionaires living in the UK, and the many more millionaires, among a number of individuals and families with interests in the beer, wine and spirits industries.

We have sifted through the list to determine the top 10 wealthiest people in the UK that owe some or all of their fortune to the drinks trade, along with several honourable mentions of individuals that may not have made the top 10, but play a key role in the industry.

Click through to find out the biggest British players in the wine, beer and spirits industries.

10. Tony and Barbara Laithwaite

Position 2017: 694

Position 2016: 885

Worth: £160m

Rise/fall: +£50m

Sources:  Wine

The foundations of Laithwaites Wine were founded in 1969, when Tony Laithwaite bought a Ford van and started bringing back wine from Bordeaux to sell in the UK. This turned into Bordeaux Direct, a company whose focus gradually expanded across France and later to Rioja, Bulgaria and Australia.

Nearly half a century on he remains owner of this business, now called Laithwaites Wine, which retains the original direct sourcing ethos from the early days. The company is now part of Direct Wines, a mail order group wholly owned by the Laithwaite family with franchise or distribution agreements in continental Europe, Hong Kong, Taiwan and India.

9. John Apthorp OBE and family

Position 2017: 473

Position 2016: 418

Worth: £243m

Rise/fall: -£7m

Sources: Wine, Food

Mr Apthorp, 82, was a founding member and managing director of the family business of frozen food stores Bejam, eventually selling the chain to Iceland in 1989 for £70m. He also co-founded Wizzard Wines (now Majestic Wines), which his family has a £32.5 million stake in. The company announced a profit warning in September 2016 which led to a 25% decline in value of its shares, following its purchase of Naked Wines.

Already an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), Apthorp was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours for charitable services.

He and his family have fallen down the rankings since last year, placing 473rd compared to last year’s 418th.

8. Silvio Denz

Silvio Denz

Position 2017: 412

Position 2016: 486

Worth: £283m

Rise/fall: +£71m

Sources: Perfume, Wine

Swiss-born businessman Silvio Denz owns the Saint-Emilion winery Château Faugères and famed crystal producer Lalique, as well as art and fragrances business. He runs his business from Twickenham.

The 60-year-old saw his fortune increase by a hefty £71m compared to last year, raising him up the rankings to 412.

7. Vivian Imerman

Vivian Imerman

Position 2017: 307

Position 2016: 291

Worth: £390m

Rise/fall: +£5m

Sources: Food, Spirits

South Africa-born Imerman is the former owner of Whyte & Mackay, the Scottish spirits business famous for the Scotch brand of the same name.

Along with his former brother-in-law Robert Tchenguiz, he sold the business to Diageo subsidiary United Spirits in 2007 for £595 million, for which he received £396 million thanks to his 60% stake in the company.

He was also responsible for the turnaround of tinned fruit giant Del Monte, serving as chief executive from 1989 to 2001, and making £380m from his stake in the company.

6. The Myers family

Position 2017: 240

Position 2016: 263

Worth: £512m

Rise/fall:  +£77m

Sources: Brewing

Sir Douglas Myers died last month, at the age of 78, after a long battle with cancer.

However the New Zealand-born brewer left behind a legacy worth £512m. He made his fortune from his Lion Nathan drinks operation, which went on to become Lion Breweries and then Lion Nathan. Myers continued to be part of the business as MD, CEO and then chairman until 1997. In 1998, Myers sold his 45% share holding to Kirin Brewery Company for $312 million.

After that, he bought the rights to John Lennon’s post-Beatles music from Yoko Ono and funded a scholarship for fellow Kiwis to study at his alma mater, Cambridge University. He lived at a country estate near Farnham in Surrey.

5. The Earl of Iveagh and the Guinness family

Lord Iveagh

Position 2017: 149

Position 2016: 134

Worth: £890m

Rise/fall: +£36m

Sources: Property, Brewing

Ned Guinness, the Earl of Ivegh, is a direct descendant of Arthur Guinness, the man who invented the world-famous black stout back in 1759. The Earl moved to Britain in 1991, inheriting his title and about £62m in Guinness shares a year later.

He also owns a 22,000 acre Elveden estate in Suffolk, where he is said to grow 10% of all the onions eaten in the UK. 

4. The Grant Gordon family

Position 2017: 50

Position 2016: 49

Worth: £2.4 billion

Rise/fall: +£210m

Sources: Spirits

William Grant & Sons was founded by the Grant Gordon family in 1887 and has grown to become one of the leading players in the international spirits trade.

The business produces some of the world’s leading brands of Scotch whisky, including Glenfiddich, The Balvenie and Grant’s. In addition, it also produces Irish whiskey Tullamore D.E.W  and recently acquired the Drambuie liqueur brand.

The family are the 50th richest in the UK, worth £2.4bn, adding 210m to their fortune in the past year.

3. Alejandro Santo Domingo and Lady Charlotte Wellesley

Position 2017: 29

Position 2016: New

Worth: £3.86 billion

Rise/fall: New

Sources: New Inheritance, Brewing, Investment

A new entry to the Sunday Times Rich List, the Colombian-American billionaire Alejandro Santo Domingo, 40, married British blue-blood Lady Charlotte Wellesley, 26, last May.

Santo Domingo is the Harvard-educated scion of the Bavaria brewery in Colombia, sold by his father Julio Mario (who died in 2011) in 2005 for a 15% stake in SABMiller. The stake is the largest in a diverse portfolio of companies that make up the privately held Santo Domingo Group.

2. Carrie and Francois Perrodo and family

Carrie Perrado

Position 2017: 20

Position 2016: 28

Worth: £5.18 billion

Rise/fall: +£1,826m

Sources: Oil, Gas, Wine

Another new entrant, the majority of London-based Perrodo families fortunes comes from their interests in the oil and gas industry, with operations in 13 countries producing 450,000 barrels of oil a day.

Since 2006, the family’s business has been managed by Carrie Perrodo, 65, and her eldest son François, 40, after her husband died in an alpine hiking accident.

The family also has an interest in the wine business, with Perrodo’s daughter, Nathalie Perrodo-Samani, in charge of Château Labégorce in Margaux.

1. Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken and Michel de Carvalho

Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken

Position 2017: 10

Position 2016: (7)

Worth: £9.3 billion

Rise/fall: +£150m

Sources: Inheritance, Brewing, Banking

Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken, 62, owns a controlling interest in the world’s second largest brewer, Heineken.

She inherited her 25% stake from her late father Freddy Heineken, grandson of the Dutch brewery’s founder, in 2002.

The de Carvalho family stake in Heineken is now valued at nearly £8.5bn, with hefty dividends of more than £650m since 2010 and other assets adding £800m to their fortune.

Honorable mentions

While the top 10 represents those whose majority wealth derives from the wine, beer or spirits industry, there are others on the list who have an interest in the alcoholic drinks sector, but have made the majority of their money through other means. Others narrowly misses out on the top 10, but are nevertheless key players in the UK drinks trade.

Sir Roger and Peter De Haan

Position 2017: 148

Position 2016:  126

Worth: £895m

Rise/fall: £5m

Sources: Travel, Insurance

Peter De Haan is chairman of Bancroft Wines, and is part of the 148th richest family in the UK along with his brother, Sir Roger De Haan. The family’s wealth derives from Saga travel empire, which was developed by their hotelier father Sidney. Sir Roger De Haan, 68, took over the running of the company in 1984 and sold it for £1.35bn in 2004. His brother Peter, 65, who had been finance director at Saga, founded Bancroft Wines, a private and wholesale wine importer, in 1999.


Position 2017: 607

Position 2016: 564

Worth: £185m


Sources: Music

Although the vast majority of Sting’s wealth comes from his career as an international musician, he also has a stake in the wine business as the owner of Italian wine estate Il Palagio in Tuscany.

Aaron and Tania Hillman and family

Position 2017: 640

Position 2016: 598

Worth: £177m

Rise/fall: £2m

Sources: Spirits

The Hillmans, led by brother and sister Aaron, 52, and Tania, 54, are the family behind Scotch whisky company Angus Dundee – specialists in bulk whisky production and own-brand Scotches. The London-based operation bought the mothballed Tomintoul distillery on Speyside in 2000 and then Glencadam malt distillery in Brechin, Angus three years later.

Sir Peter Michael

Position 2017: 748

Position 2016: 685

Worth: £150m


Sources: Electronics, Investment

Sir Peter Michael made his fortune from his Highcross property funded management group, which he sold in 2014 to US firm Northwood Investors for £635m. The sale of his Quantel special-effects operation in 1988 had previously netted him £60m. He later founded the Peter Michael Winery in California in 1982, having bought 640 acres of land in Knights Valley. The 78-year-old businessman is also known as the founder of Classic FM.

Yevgeny Chichvarkin

Position 2017: 905

Position 2016: 831

Worth: £120m


Sources: Mobile phones

Russian-born Yevgeny made his fortune in the mobile phone business, founding Euroset in 1997, which he later sold for £120m. He then moved to London and opened the now famous Hedonism Wines store in Mayfair, London, which according to the Sunday Times is a loss-making business. The store is known for its eclectic collection of over 5,500 wines and 3,000 spirits, and is a favourite of west London’s uber rich.

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