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New entrant on West Midlands rich list

The executive chairman of Kidderminster's carpets group Victoria is a new entry in the list of the 20 richest people in the West Midlands.

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Victoria boss Geoff Wilding

Geoff Wilding's wealth is estimated at £285 million, putting him in 15th place in the annual table which is part of the latest The Sunday Times Rich List, published today.

The former investment banker from New Zealand was appointed executive chairman in 2012 and has been responsible for execution of the company’s strategy which has seen growth by buying carpet and floor coverings businesses across the country.

Kirsty and Ernesto Bertarelli

Despite being £1.84 billion worse off compared to 2017, Ernesto and Kirsty Bertarelli top the West Midlands list again this year, with a fortune put at £9.65bn.

Former Miss UK Mrs Bertarelli is originally from Stone, Staffordshire, and is also a singer-songwriter who wrote Black Coffee for girl band All Saints.

Her husband ran the family's Geneva-based Serono pharmaceuticals company, which was sold to Merck for £8.6 billion.

Mr Bertarelli has furthered the family fortune by investing in the Swiss pharma businesses, Santhera and Stallergenes Greer, although both have fallen significantly in value in the past year. He has also diversified into other sectors, buying a cable-car site in the exclusive Swiss ski resort of Gstaad in 2015.

Both are generous donors to charity supporting neuroscience and biotechnology projects in Switzerland and around the world.

In second place are the owners of newly-relegated Stoke City, Denise, John and Peter Coates, who saw their wealth increase by £754m last year

The Coates family are now sitting on a wealth of £5.754bn, that sum boosted in 2016-2017 by an annual salary for Denise Coates of almost £200m from Bet365, the online gaming operation she set up from a prefabricated building in a car park in 2001.

JCB Chairman Lord Bamford

Third place goes to Lord Bamford and family, owners of Staffordshire's digger giant JCB. Their wealth rose £300m to £3.6bn.

The JCB chairman gave his 5,500 UK staff at Staffordshire-based manufacturer a 3.9 per cent pay rise, which followed a £500 Christmas bonus for each worker just days before. The family were Britain’s biggest political donors in 2017, gifting personally and through JCB a total of £2.463m to the Conservative party.

John Caudwell, founder of Phones4U, who lives at Broughton Hall, near Eccleshall, is fourth – up £52m at £1.56bn. The former car dealer sold the business for £1.34bn.

The Stoke-born tycoon’s Caudwell Children charity provides family support, mobility and sensory equipment as well as therapy for children with brain injuries and pays for holidays for youngsters fighting life-threatening illnesses.

Robert Watts, the compiler of The Sunday Times Rich List, said: “The Midlands is the engine room of Britain’s economy so it’s no surprise to see tycoons like Lord Edmiston from the car industry and Lord Bamford from the manufacturing world feature prominently in the region’s Rich List.

“Many of these entrepreneurs enjoyed a ‘Brexit dividend’ with the weaker pound making their products cheaper to exporters.

“But over our 30 editions we’ve seen more and more diversity in how these entrepreneurs make their money and our Midlands Rich List epitomises that change, with vast fortunes now being made from mobile phones, online gambling and even selling chickens.”

The oldest person on this year’s Rich List is Wolverhampton-based, 98-year-old Tony Murray, who is fifth in the West Midlands with £1.22bn - a rise of £55m on th year.

Mr Murray served as an RAF navigator during the Second World War. He and his family own Andrew Sykes Group, the heating and air-conditioning equipment hire company, and the London Security fire protection firm in West Yorkshire.

Seventh on the list is former Wolves owner Steve Morgan, whose wealth went up £111m to £942m. Ninth place goes to Ranjit and Baljinder Boparan, owners of Birmingham-based food group 2 Sisters, who were up £202m to £746m. 12th spot goes to Roy Richardson and family. The Oldbury-based investors, who were behind the building of the Merry Hill shoppinc centre, were unchanged at £470m.