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Anders Holch Povlsen tops the 2023 list of Scotland's richest people with an estimated £8.5 billion fortune

By Caroline McMorran

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Danish entrepreneur Anders Holch Povlsen, who owns 220,000 acres of land in Scotland, has been named as the country’s richest person.

Billionaire Mr Holch Povlsen is ranked number one in the newly published edition of the Sunday Times Rich List in Scotland.

Anders Holch Povlsen is Scotland's largest private landowner.
Anders Holch Povlsen is Scotland's largest private landowner.

The fashion retailer comes in 17th on the overall UK Rich List this year, with a valuation estimated at £8.5 billion - up £2 billion from £6.5 billion in 2022.

UK-wide, a number of Rich List regulars are nursing heavy losses from the bursting of a second tech bubble.

Sir Richard Branson’s wealth has fallen by £1.79 billion since last year, largely due to the falling share prices of his space tourism and satellite ventures.

Compiled by Robert Watts, the 2023 Sunday Times Rich List is the definitive guide to wealth in the UK and charts the wealth of the 350 richest people.

The list is based on “identifiable wealth”, including land, property, other assets such as art and racehorses, or significant shares in publicly quoted companies. It excludes bank accounts, to which the paper has no access.

The minimum wealth needed to be counted in the top 350 is £350 million. Overall the richest 350 people in the UK this year are worth £796.459 billion

Mr Holch Povlsen’s love affair with Scotland began as a child when his parents took him on a fishing trip.

Today he is the country’s largest private landowner. Home is Aldourie Castle, on the shores of Loch Ness.

His wealth stems from the Danish fashion retailer Bestseller, founded by his father, Troels Holch Povlsen, in 1975.

Mr Holch Povlsen (50) took over in 2000. He is chief executive and the sole owner of the business, which has had a strong year, increasing profits to £723 million.

He also has a stake in the struggling fast-fashion outfit Asos, which has lost £183 million over the past year.

Whisky dynasty, Glenn Gordon, is listed as this year’s second richest person in Scotland at £4.607 billion. Based in Jersey, Gordon and his family runs William Grant & Sons, and is owner of Drambuie, Glenfiddich and Grant’s.

In third place is Sir Ian Wood and family of the Wood Group with a £1.82 billion fortune made from oil services and fishing.

Mohamed Al Fayed and family are in fourth place with £1.699 billion, made from retailing and hotels such as Harrods and Parish Ritz.

And in fifth place is businessman and Highland Spring owner Mohammed Mahdi Al-Tajir with £1.637 billion from minerals, oil and water.

Rich List compiler Mr Watts said: "This year's Sunday Times Rich List shows that a golden period for the super rich is over. For the first time in 14 years we've seen the number of UK billionaires fall.

"Two years ago we raised concerns about an unsettling boom in the fortunes of the very wealthy that continued unchecked during the political instability around Brexit and the pandemic. This is not a crash - but there are household names who have lost vast sums over the past year.

"The bursting of the tech bubble, the end of rock bottom interests and the jitters creeping through the banking industry have all taken their toll.

"The super rich don't exist in a vacuum. Many small investors lost money in some of their overblown stock market floats. Many people also work for their businesses. Financial losses for billionaires can have implications for us all."

The Sunday Times Rich List is published today online at https://www.thetimes.co.uk/sunday-times-rich-list and in the print edition of the newspaper on Sunday, May 21.

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