Albert Gubay

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Albert Gubay
Born 9 April 1928 (1928-04-09) (age 87)
Rhyl, Denbighshire, Wales
Residence Santon, Isle of Man[1]
Nationality Welsh
Ethnicity Irish mother; Iraqi Jewish father
Occupation Businessman
Years active 1959–present
Home town Rhyl, Wales
Net worth Increase £500m+ (est.)[2]
Title Founder/Owner of Kwik Save (1959–73)
Founder/Owner of Total Fitness (1993–2004)
Founder/Owner of Mount Murray Hotel
& Country Club
(since 1994)
Chairman of The Albert Gubay
Charitable Foundation
(since 2010)
Owner of The Nunnery[3]
Religion Roman Catholic
Spouse(s) Unnamed ex-wife (divorced)
Carmel Gubay[4] (?–present)
Children 2

Albert Gubay, KC*SG (born 9 April 1928)[5] is a Welsh businessman and philanthropist, who made his fortune in retailing with Kwik Save, building it further on investments, mainly in property development. According to Forbes, in 2006 Gubay had an estimated fortune of approximately GBP500 million (USD1.1 billion), making him the 698th richest person in the world.[6]

Early life[edit]

Born on 9 April 1928 in Rhyl,[7] to an Iraqi Jewish father,[8][9] and an Irish Roman Catholic mother,[8] Gubay began his business career in North Wales selling non-sugar sweets during post-World War II confectionery rationing. When rationing came to an end in the mid-1950s, the confectionery business ran into difficulties and Gubay moved into retailing via market stalls.[10]


Kwik Save[edit]

Gubay founded Value Foods on 11 May 1959 in Prestatyn, and rented its first retail shop in Rhyl in July 1959. His aggressive price cutting resulted in some manufacturers refusing to supply him.[11]

In 1964 Gubay visited the United States with fellow director Ken Nicholson, and learnt about the "baby shark" method of retailing. Combined with ideas gained from West German retailer Aldi, the business model was based on buying goods on favourable (net 60 or 90) payment terms, distributing and selling them at or below cost before the payment fell due, and using the interest on the resulting cash flow to fund the business. The first Kwik Save Discount branded store opened in Prestatyn in 1965, and produced more sales than the existing Value Foods supermarkets. The second opened in Colwyn Bay, and by 1970 Kwik Save Discount had 24 stores.

Just before it was floated on to the London Stock Exchange in November 1970, the company changed its name formally to Kwik Save Discount Group Ltd. In 1973, Gubay sold Kwik Save for £14M/$28 million.[6]

3 Guys[edit]

After selling Kwik Save, Gubay repeated the low-price retail model in New Zealand, Ireland and the United States:[6]

  • New Zealand
  • Ireland - Gubay founded 3 Guys in Ireland, selling the chain to the H Williams chain of supermarkets in 1986, which subsequently collapsed in the same year. Many ended up as outlets of other chains, including Crazy Prices, which was later bought by Tesco together with a residual stake in a new 3 Guys chain to create Tesco Ireland[12]
  • United States - Gubay entered the United States in 1980, but was not as successful as in his other locations. The chain went bankrupt late in 1985, with the stores selling to other chains including Food Lion[13]

Total Fitness[edit]

While recovering from a back injury, Gubay founded fitness chain Total Fitness. Gubay sold the mainly North West and Irish based chain of 21 locations and 150,000 members to the private equity arm of Legal & General, in July 2004 for £70 million.[14]


Gubay has since moved his focus to property development, via Portville.[15] He has mass investments, mainly in the United Kingdom,[16] Ireland,[17] and Russia. He was named the top property developer in Wales in 2005.[18]

Church giving and charity[edit]

In the 1980s, Gubay paid for a replacement church at the site of St Anthony's in Onchan, Isle of Man. The church was designed by Clayton/Massey, with local architect John Cryer responsible for the interior, and Gubay's suggestion of a window illustrating Christ walking on Douglas Bay by Chris Spittall as a focal point.[19] In 1990, Gubay paid for an extension to Our Lady of the Nativity church in Leixlip, County Kildare, in memory of his mother, Mary Clarke, a native of the area.[20]

Gubay has been generous in his donations to various charities. These include an Isle of Man Government bursary program fully funded by Gubay, which means that students from the Isle of Man can enter any of the world's top ten universities.[21]

"Pact with God"[edit]

In summer 1997, Gubay told an RTE television documentary that he had made a "50-50" deal with God, promising when he was younger and penniless to give half his estate to the Roman Catholic Church, if he succeeded in becoming a millionaire.[17]

In March 2010 Gubay announced that he was to transfer £470 million of his £480 million personal fortune to a charitable trust.[22] Half the income must be spent on projects connected with the Catholic Church with the rest distributed at the discretion of the trustees.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Gubay and his second wife have lived in Santon, Isle of Man since 1971. He has two children with his first wife, and was petitioned to stay on the Island by locals after he threatened to leave for Switzerland in light of a dispute over taxes.[14]

Honours and awards[edit]

On 23 February 2011, Gubay was invested as Knight Commander with Star of the Order of St. Gregory the Great (KC*SG) by the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols. Gubay was honoured with this Papal knighthood for his conspicuous service to the Church and society.[23][24][25]


  1. ^ "Gubay given Papal knighthood - Isle of Man News". iomtoday. 24 February 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-18. 
  2. ^ Tozer, James (22 March 2010). "Kwik Save tycoon gives away fortune to fulfil his promise to God". Mail Online. Retrieved 2011-08-18. 
  3. ^ "Island benefactor offers to complete Douglas town centre ‘missing link’". Douglas Borough Council Online. 23 April 2011. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-18. 
  4. ^ "Philanthropist to be knighted - Isle of Man News". iomtoday. Retrieved 2011-08-18. 
  5. ^ " - UK Company and Company Director Reports". Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-18. [dead link]
  6. ^ a b c Albert Gubay, The World's Richest People
  7. ^ Nine Welsh Kwik Save stores shut BBC News, 29 May 2007
  8. ^ a b c The Daily Mail: "Multi-millionaire Kwik Save founder gives away his £400m fortune to fulfil his promise to God" By James Tozer 22 March 2010
  9. ^ Jewish Billionaires JewProm
  10. ^ Kwik Save - Review - Kwik Save - They do have their good points
  11. ^ Current trends in food retailing[dead link]
  12. ^ Checkout Ireland[dead link]
  13. ^ Supermarket History - Charlotte, North Carolina
  14. ^ a b Business guru Albert Gubay sells Total Fitness to L&G for €120m Irish Independent, 1 August 2004
  15. ^ Crosby Central Portfolio Maghull Group
  16. ^ Health centre and pool in precinct plan This is Lancashire, 22 April 2000
  17. ^ a b Gubay-linked firm sued by builders Irish Independent, 8 December 1998
  18. ^ Gubay is top property magnate in Wales Archived from Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales) 3 November 2005
  19. ^ Roman Catholic Churches in the Isle of Man - The Online Isle of Man Portal
  20. ^ Our Lady of the Nativity Leixlip Town Council
  21. ^ Mr Gubay’s £1m Donation - New Opportunities for Isle of Man Students Isle of Man Public Services
  22. ^ Kwik Save tycoon gives up riches in pact with God Daily Telegraph, 21 March 2010
  23. ^ Papal knighthood for UK philanthropist - website CathNews, 1 February 2011
  24. ^ Albert Gubay 'overwhelmed' with Papal award - website BBC News, 23 February 2011
  25. ^ Pope gave personal consent for Albert Gubay honour - Isle of Man Nation Website, 24 February 2011

External links[edit]