Peter Vardy (businessman)
Sir Peter Vardy (born 4 March 1947) is a British businessman and philanthropist from Houghton-le-Spring in Durham. His business interests have been mainly in the automotive retail business. In the Sunday Times Rich List 2009 ranking of the wealthiest people in the UK he was placed 388th with an estimated fortune of £140million.
Vardy took control of the car dealership Reg Vardy plc in 1976, after the death of the founder Reg Vardy, his father. In the late 1970s he was successful in acquiring franchises to sell various brands in the UK. From 1982 he expanded into the volume car market, first with British manufacturers and subsequently with European and Japanese marques. In January 2006 the dealership was sold to Pendragon, the largest UK car dealership chain, for £506m. Vardy stepped down as Chief Executive the following month.
Vardy was awarded the inaugural Industry Personality of the Year Award in a round of Automotive Management Awards and received a knighthood for services to education in the Queen's Birthday Honours list of 2001.
In May 2006, The Vardy Group of Companies was launched in Durham, comprising: Vardy Venture Capital, established by Sir Peter Vardy; Vardy Property Group, launched by his elder son Richard; and Peter Vardy Ltd, launched by Peter Vardy (grandson of Reg Vardy) who had previously been General Manager of Rossleigh Jaguar Edinburgh.
Commitment to education and philanthropy
He has a long commitment to philanthropy, through the Vardy Foundation, supporting a very wide range of community causes.
He has been at the forefront of business involvement in education, and funded the building of a City Technology College in Gateshead and three Academies, in Middlesbrough, Thorne and Blyth. These four schools form the Emmanuel Schools Foundation, a coalition of schools with a Christian ethos based in the north of England. The schools have received Ofsted ratings from "good" to "outstanding". In October 2010, Vardy transferred sponsorship of the schools to the United Learning Trust, another sponsor of academies but one with a mixed record of success to date, as noted in The Guardian article of 5 November 2009 entitled "ULT ordered to halt expansion".
Vardy has stated that widespread reports that he is a creationist are incorrect, and that he has a very traditional view about how science should be taught. In an interview with the BBC Today programme, Vardy said: "I believe that God created the earth and created man in his own image; quite how long it took him I don't know". However Nigel McQuoid, former director of schools at the Emmanuel Schools Foundation and former Principal of Emmanuel College and The King's Academy, publicly took a recognisably creationist stance, claiming that creation was a theory and evolution a "position of faith". In January 2011, Vardy won a claim in the British High Court against Tribune over claims it had made about the Emmanuel Schools teaching creationism.
- Sunday Times Rich List 2009 online edition
- Chorister School website
- VARDY, Sir Peter in Who's Who 2007 online at xreferplus.com (accessed 20 October 2007)
- Business honours: Services to education, BBC News, 15 June 2001
- Peter Vardy Ltd in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For 2009 List
- The Vardy Foundation, Registered Charity no. 328415 at the Charity Commission
- Emmanuel Schools Foundation website
- They aren't faith schools and they don't select, The Guardian, 5 December 2006
- ULT ordered to halt expansion, The Guardian, 5 November 2009
- Interview (RealAudio stream), Today programme, BBC, 15 April 2006.
- Revealed: Blair's link to schools that take the Creation literally, The Independent, 13 June 2004
- Sir Peter Vardy wins High Court apology, The Journal, 11 January 2011