Sandy Easdale pictured with the Carmelite Sisters at Clerkhill in Dumbarton.

By Bill Heaney

The owners of the former Clerkhill convent site in Dumbarton’s deprived West End are amongst the richest people in Scotland.

The 2022 Sunday Times Rich List found that Sandy and James Easdale were minted and had £1.363 billion in money and assets.

Brothers Sandy and James are former directors of Rangers football club, are in the top ten the wealthiest people in the country and are newcomers to the list.

But another man with Dumbarton connections, Jim McColl, a former owner of the Ferguson Marine shipyard, lost his billionaire status.

He is currently caught up in a running battle with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP government over a perceived scandal involving the financing of two island ferries which are under construction at the Ferguson Marine yard across the clyde at Port Glasgow.

Jim McColl, pictured left,  once operated a kitchen  manufacturing business at Broadmeadow Industrial Estate near Dumbarton Common.

He has also been involved in other businesses in West Dunbartonshire, and he too was once connected with Rangers Football Club.

The 10 billionaires at the head of the 2022 Rich list have a combined wealth of £23.054bn – more than a quarter of this is in the hands of Mr Holch Povlsen.

Holch Povlsen is Scotland’s biggest private landowner and owner of the Danish fashion retailer Bestseller.

His personal fortune increased by £500 million in the past year to £6.5 billion, according to The Sunday Times Rich List.

The 49-year-old owns 220,000 acres of land in Scotland, as well as a 25% stake in the British online fashion retailer Asos.

He bought the 42,000-acre Glenfeshie estate in the Cairngorms for £8 million in 2006 and now owns 12 Highland estates.

Holch Povlsen and his wife Ann have committed to re-wilding the land and opposed the development of the Space Hub Sutherland, which is close to some of their property.

Glenn Gordon, the chairman of Moray-based distiller William Grant & Sons, is the second richest person in Scotland with £3.395 billion, a drop of £200 million.

John Shaw and Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, who owns pharmaceutical firm Biocon and is considered to be India’s wealthiest self-made woman, saw their assets fall by £446 million to an estimated £2.496 billion – putting them in third place.

New to the list are the Easdale brothers whose £1.363 billion fortune, based upon transport and property acquisitions, makes them eighth richest.

The property the brothers bought from the Carmelite Sisters is on a plum site at Clerkhill, which was once run by the Notre Dame Sisters.

The brothers “rescued” an important statue of St Joseph which had been built into the walls of the convent chapel they were demolishing and presented it to the Sisters for its safe-keeping.

Sister Theresa, the former moderator of the convent, is pictured right receiving the statue from Sandy Easdale.

The site has spectacular views over the River Clyde towards the  Renfrewshire Hills has met strong opposition from people living in the nearby Brucehill housing estate.

It has been criticised for the “accidental” removal of trees on the site, which they are alleged to have promised would not happen, and by heritage groups for paying scant attention to the fact that some parts of the area are of historical importance because they are connected with William Wallace and King Robert the Bruce.

However, Monaco-based Jim McColl, 70, head of Clyde Blowers, the East Kilbride engineering operation, is no longer a billionaire.

He lost £4 million after a fall in the value of investments, leaving him with assets worth £996 million and in 11th place on the list.

The 10 wealthiest people in Scotland

1. Anders Holch Povlsen (Wealth of £6.5bn)

2. Glenn Gordon and family (£3.395bn)

3. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and John Shaw and family (£2.496bn)

4. Sir Ian Wood and family (£1.819bn)

5. Mohamed Al Fayed and family (Harrods; £1.699bn)

6. Mahdi al-Tajir (Highland Spring; £1.685bn)

7. The Thomson family (DC Thomson; £1.585bn)

8. Sandy and James Easdale (£1.363bn)

9. Lady Philomena Clark and family (Arnold Clark; £1.267bn)

10. Trond Mohn and Marit Mohn Westlake and family (Industry; £1.245bn)

Harry Potter author Joanne Rowling, who lives in Edinburgh, now has an estimated £850 million – an increase of £30 million since last year – and is in 12th place.

Bristol-born JK Rowling, 56, has given away millions of pounds in recent years, including supporting her charity Lumos which works to provide alternatives to orphanages. She also gave away £6.7 million last year through her Volant Trust to support women, children and young people in Scotland.

The West End site bought by the Easdale brothers run down to Havoc Meadows and the Clyde shore.

Overall, the richest 250 people in the UK this year are worth £710.723 billion, compared to £658.089 billion in 2021, an 8% rise on last year.

Robert Watts, the compiler of The Sunday Times Rich List, said: “Scotland’s richest people have fared less well than those elsewhere in the UK, with half of this year’s 10 Scottish billionaires seeing their fortunes fall over the past year. The combined wealth of the country’s 10 billionaires is still up, at nearly 2% on 2021.

“As the economy continues to work through the damage wrought by the pandemic, surging inflation and the disruption to markets caused by the war in Ukraine are now making the business environment difficult.”

The 2022 Sunday Times Rich 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.

Top of page: The Easdale brothers, James and Sandy, who bought the old convent site.

One comment

  1. Not bad especially for the one who got jail time for fraud and evasion. Just shows you how things can turn round.

    The council declined the site for a new OLSP because officials briefed that the railway line was a problem. But now it is not.

    The old convent chapel was grade two listed but the listing was removed and the developer demolished it. Apparently the listing was no longer appropriate. And trees the subject of a Tree Preservation Order were chopped down. Well such things happen, don’t they.

    Good old West Dunbartonshire Council, the best Council money can buy.

    Anyway, in relation to the Easdale’s, well done the brothers for becoming billionaires.

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