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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever