45. (42) Constantine Folkes £95m (£85m)
A landmark headquarters building in Studley, Warwickshire is to be transformed after being bought for £2 million by Constantine Folkes’ Black Country-based Folkes Holdings as part of its partnership with Trigram Properties.
The Birmingham Road property will provide more than 20,000 sq ft of high quality office space. Renamed Studley Point it is one of the area’s most prominent buildings.
A combination of property and good old fashioned metal bashing have been the source of wealth for Constantine Folkes, who can trace his company back to the 17th century.
Constantine Folkes – the 91 per cent owner of Folkes Holdings – is a descendant of the Lye blacksmith who began the business more than 300 years ago. Folkes Holdings, based in Dudley Road, Lye, includes Somers Forge in Halesowen, making crankshafts, and a heat treatment plant. It is one of the largest open die forges in Europe. There are also two metal treatment plants. The business does well, against the trend of many similar manufacturing operations. These business divisions pale into insignificance when compared to the Folkes’ property division which is the largest commercial landlord in the Black Country and also specialises in commercial property development and investment in South Africa.
The portfolio includes the Britannia Business Park in Wednesbury, as well as trading estate property in Cradley Heath, Kidderminster, Dudley, Tamworth and Wellingborough.
The company also has a successful building firm in Shropshire – William Williams.
Constantine Folkes, aged 55, took over the helm of the family company in 1981 and remains chairman and chief executive.
When taking over at the age of 28 he was youngest chairman of a quoted company. In 2002 he took the company private, and it is now worth more than £75 million.