Store boss tops rich list for a third year

Department store boss Mark Fenwick tops the North-East rich league for the third year running in a year when the region's 10 wealthiest people have watched their bank accounts soar.

Department store boss Mark Fenwick tops the North-East rich league for the third year running in a year when the region's 10 wealthiest people have watched their bank accounts soar.

The 57-year-old chairman of the Fenwick Group once again heads the region's contingent in The Sunday Times rich list, published tomorrow.

Mr Fenwick has seen his family fortune increase from £324m to £348m, after sales rocketed by £10m at the chain of eight stores.

Second place in the region's wealth table goes to the Duke of Northumberland. His £300m comes from an extensive art collection, his estates, including 120,000 acres around Alnwick, and 11 companies.

Prominent North-East businessmen, such as Graham Wylie, founder of software firm Sage, nursing home and fitness club owner Duncan Bannatyne and car magnate Sir Peter Vardy, all feature in the top 10.

They sit alongside musician Sting, who lies in fifth place with a personal fortune of £185m.

Between them, the region's top 10 have seen their wealth rocket by 18.5% over the past year, according to the list's compiler, Philip Beresford.

Mr Beresford compiles the list by looking at a string of factors including company accounts, share prices, land holdings, art treasures, record sales and concert takings - saying £60m is his "bottom line".

He said yesterday: "When I first started 18 years ago, it was regarded as vulgar. People thought I was some sort of Leninist trying to expose the filthy rich.

"Now people expect it, some people co-operate, and some try to push their own wealth up for egotistical reasons. Generally the hostility appears to have disappeared, or at least been muted.

"There's been a change in society - the old money is no longer to the fore. It's people who have made fortunes for themselves or inherited business fortunes and made them grow, which is healthy for society, I would argue."

Just outside the North-East top 10 is Middlesbrough Football Club chairman Steve Gibson.

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