The Business On: Sir Anthony Bamford, Chairman, JCB

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The Independent Online

Still digging deep for British manufacturing?

Oh yes. Sir Anthony, now 65, has been chairman of JCB since 1975 and is a champion of the manufacturing sector. His company is now bouncing back from the construction downturn – sales were up 48 per cent last year, it said yesterday.

A rare success story?

That's something which depresses Sir Anthony, who has fought hard to promote British industry. The company sponsors an engineering academy for 14- to 19-year-olds and Sir Anthony lobbies at the highest level for manufacturing.

Does he have good contacts?

Impeccable. He had the ear of Lord Mandelson when he was Labour's Business Secretary, but he's much closer to the Tories, having been a long-time donor to the party. Too close, in fact – David Cameron wanted to make him a peer last year, but the party donations counted against him.

Back to the day job then?

Nothing wrong with that – JCB is a proud company. Its results yesterday came on the 95th anniversary of the birth of founder Joseph Cyril Bamford, and the company itself has just turned 65. To celebrate, Sir Anthony has sent thousands of staff a bottle of wine, two glasses and a DVD charting the company's history.

That was generous.

Well, JCB has been Sir Anthony's life work – it was founded on the day of his birth in 1945.

Has it treated him well?

Yes. Though the Bamford family thought about selling up in the 1970s, the company has repaid their decision to stick with it. There have been ups and downs – not least the recession – but Sir Anthony is today worth £1.6bn, according to the Sunday Times Rich List.

How does he spend it?

Wisely, by all accounts. He's a widely respected collector of vintage Ferraris and has homes in Stow and Chelsea. He thought about buying Jaguar cars a few years back, but rejected the idea when told that he would have to buy Land Rover too.