Want to be a billionaire? You should have founded Specsavers

Even as the founder of Specsavers, Dame Mary Perkins could perhaps be forgiven for squinting at the number of zeros beside her name. She is Britain's first self-made billionaire according to The Sunday Times Rich List, joining 72 others in Britain who have at least 10 figures in their bank accounts.

The rest of the country and its economy might be struggling to get going again, but the recession must seem a distant memory for Britain's 1,000 richest people. They are now worth a collective £395.8bn, and have increased their wealth by 18 per cent during the past 12 months. And following the record rise of 30 per cent last year, the list shows that the straitening times of 2009 – when £155bn was wiped from their fortunes – are behind them.

Dame Mary and her husband Douglas enjoyed a particularly successful year, with their wealth estimated to have risen by 40 per cent. Their cut-price opticians is now worth £1.1bn, with more than a thousand stores spread across 10 countries. It has been helped by the slogan "Should have gone to Specsavers" providing free advertising by planting itself in the popular lexicon. At number 56 in the list, however, Dame Mary remains well short of frontrunner Lakshmi Mittal. Significant falls in the share price of his steel business, ArcelorMittal, shrunk his wealth by £5bn in the past year, yet he still remains another £5bn ahead of the nearest contender, Uzbeki businessman Alisher Usmanov.

Mr Usmanov rose from sixth to second on the list after his wealth grew 164 per cent to £12.4bn in the past year. Now he is above Chelsea FC's owner Roman Abramovich, some fans of London football rivals Arsenal may wish it was Mr Usmanov who was increasing his stake in the club rather than Stan Kroenke, who is not included in the list because he is based in the US, but is worth a trifling £1.6bn.

The highest new entrants were two of the four Hinduja brothers, Gopi and Sri, who are now based in Britain. Their share of the family business, which has assets in fields ranging from car building, energy and defence, was "cautiously" put at £6bn.

Malaysian businesswoman Christina Ong, who has a stake in the Mulberry fashion brand, also had a remarkable 12 months with her family's fortune shooting up 491 per cent to £650m.

Financiers and property magnates are the mainstay of the list, with a healthy splattering of retailers.

On the same day our sister paper, The Independent on Sunday, published its Happy List 2011, a compendium of people who have contributed to making Britain a bettter place to live. Among the entries were children's author Lauren Child, space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pococok and inventor Trevor Bayliss.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Talent Community Coordinator

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried