S&N loses some sparkle as Hemmings calls it a day
Once dubbed the man who could give Greta Garbo tips in remaining anonymous, Mr Hemmings leaves S&N to concentrate on the many other interests in a wide-ranging portfolio of private business investments. These range from Farringford, a quoted pub owner, to a Welsh ice cream company, control of John Wilman, the wallpaper company rescued from the wreckage of Coloroll, and 90 per cent of Lingfield racecourse.
But he is best known as the Fred Pontin protege who made a fortune buying the holiday camp business from Bass, its then owner, and selling it on soon after to Scottish & Newcastle in exchange for shares in the brewer. His holding of 16.2 million shares was worth pounds 112m at last night's close, but his fortune is estimated at more than twice as much.
Not bad for the secondary modern lad who left school at 15 to clean steam trains before embarking on an apprenticeship as a bricklayer. Within five years he had started his own building business which he later sold to Christian Salvesen for pounds 1.5m. That in turn was a practice run for the sale of his next firm to Barratt for pounds 5.7m.
With plenty of cash and nowhere to go, Hemmings joined Pontins as its property director and, according to some, surrogate son for the ageing Fred. Ever the deal-maker, he sold Pontins on to Coral, then Bass, then to himself and finally to S&N.
An ace negotiator, Mr Hemmings acquired star status at the brewer by brokering the successful acquisition of Center Parcs, another holiday business.
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