The Duke of Westminster is the richest person in Northwest and remains the UK’s youngest billionaire

According to the new edition of the Sunday Times Rich List the 28-year-old Duke of Westminster has seen the family fortune grow by £136m this year, cementing his position as the richest person in the Northwest and the youngest billionaire in the UK.

The Grosvenor family seat is at Eaton Hall, near Chester.

Despite a setback this year for the Grosvenor Group – in which a £500m build-to-rent development in Bermondsey, London, was rejected on the grounds that its “affordable” flats were deemed unaffordable for most people – assets have steadily grown to nearly £4.9bn in 2017, up £110m in a year.

While he inherited the Dukedom in 2016, the 7th Duke, “Hughie” Grosvenor has not yet worked for the family “firm” beyond a brief stint on a graduate programme when he left Newcastle University.

He remains at his accounting job with London-based company Bio-Bean, an organisation that recycles coffee grounds into bio-fuels.

The family’s wealth stems from the 300 acres of Mayfair and Belgravia it owns in London, together with land in Cheshire, Oxford, Scotland and Spain.

The Grosvenor Group has investments in 60 cities worldwide with half its assets now held outside the UK. Private assets and estates include nearly 165,000 acres of rural land, a dairy farm, the Chester Grosvenor hotel and the nation’s largest bull stud operation.

Within the top five Northwest regional rankings alone, the success and failure of the British high street is evident.

Tom Morris ranks second in the region, up £100m in the last year as his Home Bargains shopping chain became Merseyside’s biggest employer.

With more than 500 stores, Morris, 65, hired an average of six staff a day in 2017-18, helping to fuel profits, which have soared to £202.7m from more than £2bn in sales.

More than 23,000 people are now employed by the Home Bargains organisation, and assets of £912m increase its worth to £3.5bn.

John Whittaker, ranked fourth in the Northwest, tells a different story of the high street, with two collapsed bids for the Intu shopping centre operation. Whittaker, 77, owns 27.32% of Intu, a stake that has roughly halved in value from last year and now stands at £393.4m.

Dividends add £51.3m to Whittaker’s wealth, but he is still down £300m from last year to stand at £1.95bn.

Robert Watts, compiler of The Sunday Times Rich List, said: ““It’s easy to get the impression that the rich only ever getter richer – but three of the five wealthiest entries in our Northwest Rich List have actually seen the size of their fortunes fall over the past year.

"The super-rich certainly have not been immune to the cyclone of change blowing through the high street or the political deadlock over Brexit.

“The billionaires Tom Morris and Philip Day illustrate that there is still money to be made from conventional retail.

"But Mahmud Kamani and Lawrence Jones are showing with Boohoo and UKFast that the North West has cutting edge online retail and tech firms with the potential to create many jobs for decades to come.

“This year’s winners also include Peter Jones, a former joiner who has entered the ranks of the North West’s billionaires at the age of 84.

"His story epitomises the growth of self-made entrepreneurs, who have come dominate the Sunday Times Rich List in recent years.”

Rising 15 places in the regional rankings this year, Lawrence Jones, ranked 14th, reports the biggest wealth increase in the region, up £385m from last year. Jones, 50, has gone from a council house in Denbigh to owning Manchester-based UKFast, a cloud-hosting company valued at over £660m.

A recent £205m deal saw Jones sell 31% of the organisation to a private equity group, retaining a family holding worth £463m.

Mahmud Kamani, 54, is a non-mover ranked tenth in the region, despite a £163m increase in his family’s wealth.

His family have a £929m holding in Manchester-based Boohoo, the online fashion retailer, now valued at £2.78bn, a £500m increase on a year ago. Kamani is executive chairman and co-founder of the business.

While the number of billionaires in the Northwest has risen to a record 12, three of the top 10 – the Arora brothers, John Whittaker and family, and Fred and Peter Done – have seen their wealth fall this year with a combined.

The Rich List is to be published this Sunday.