12. (9) Jacques Gaston Murray £625m (£640m)
Jacques Gaston Murray doesn’t like wet summers. His Wolverhampton-based heating and cooling company Andrews Sykes Group makes much of its money from air-conditioning and ventilation systems, and recent wet summers have reduced demand.
In its last published financial results, for the year ended December 29, 2007, the company reported pre-tax profits of £12.4 million, which was down on the previous year’s £14 million. Revenues dropped from £59.8 million to £57.9 million.
The company still paid out an interim dividend to shareholders of £15 million, though, funded by a refinancing package from Royal Bank of Scotland which will also support Andrews Sykes’ growth aspirations in the UK, Europe and the Middle East.
Jacques Gaston Murray's other business is West Yorkshire-based London Security plc, one of Europe’s leading fire protection businesses.
The 88-year-old has been a British national since just after the Second World War. He was born in Paris and studied architecture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
He was called up in 1940 and when France surrendered to Germany he made his way to England where he joined the Royal Air Force, flying 38 missions as a navigator.
After the war he returned to France, but returned to England to embark on a distinguished business career. His involvement with fire extinguishers began in 1961 when he invested in a business which became General-Incendie SA, one of France’s largest fire extinguisher companies.
He is a 98.5 per cent shareholder in London Security plc, which turns over more than £65 million a year and makes consistent profits.
He is an 84.7 per cent shareholder in the Andrews Sykes Group which was formed in 1857 and has more than 30,000 customers.
Much of its business is weather dependent, so the company is aim to move into other areas.
Andrews Sykes’ pumps division is performing strongly.
The Murray family’s stakes in their business interests total around £300 million, with a further contribution from a portfolio and other assets. We have made a small downward adjustment to reflect lower property values.