Albert Gubay

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Albert Gubay
Born 9 April 1928 (1928-04-09)
Rhyl, Denbighshire, Wales
Died 5 January 2016(2016-01-05) (aged 87)
Wilmslow, Cheshire, England
Nationality Welsh
Occupation Businessman
Years active 1959–2016
Title Founder/Owner of Kwik Save (1959–73)
Founder/Owner of Total Fitness (1993–2004)
Founder/Owner of Mount Murray Hotel
& Country Club
Chairman of The Albert Gubay
Charitable Foundation
Owner of The Nunnery[1]
Spouse(s) ex-wife (divorced)
Carmel Gubay[2] (?–2016, his death)
Children 2

Albert Gubay, KC*SG (9 April 1928 – 5 January 2016) was a Welsh businessman and philanthropist, who made his fortune with the Kwik Save retail chain, building it further on investments, mainly in property development. According to Forbes, in 2006 Gubay had an estimated fortune of approximately GBP500 million (US$1.1 billion), making him the 698th richest person in the world.[3]

Early life[edit]

Born on 9 April 1928 in Rhyl,[4] to an Iraqi Jewish father,[5][6] and an Irish Roman Catholic mother,[5] 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.[7]


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.[8]

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.[3]

3 Guys[edit]

After selling Kwik Save, Gubay repeated the low-price retail model in New Zealand, Ireland and the United States:[3]

  • 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[9]
  • 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[10]

Total Fitness[edit]

While recovering from a back injury, Gubay founded fitness chain Total Fitness. In July 2007, Gubay sold the chain, based mainly in North West England and Ireland, with 21 locations and 150,000 members, to the private equity arm of Legal & General, for £70 million.[11]


Gubay had since moved his focus to property development, via Portville.[12] He has mass investments, mainly in the United Kingdom,[13] Ireland,[14] and Russia. He was named the top property developer in Wales in 2005.[15]

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.[16] 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.[17]

Gubay funded an Isle of Man Government bursary program, which means that students from the Isle of Man can enter any of the world's top ten universities.[18]

"Pact with God"[edit]

In summer 1997, Gubay told an RTÉ 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.[14]

In March 2010 Gubay announced that he was to transfer £470 million of his £480 million personal fortune to a charitable trust.[19] Half the income must be spent on projects connected with the Catholic Church with the rest distributed at the discretion of the trustees.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Gubay and his second wife lived in Santon, Isle of Man since 1971. He had two children with his first wife, and was petitioned to stay on the island by locals after threatening to leave for Switzerland as a result of a dispute over taxes.[11]

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.[20][21][22]


Gubay died aged 87, following a short illness, at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, on 5 January 2016.[23][24]


  1. ^ "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. 
  2. ^ "Philanthropist to be knighted - Isle of Man News". iomtoday. Retrieved 2011-08-18. 
  3. ^ a b c "Albert Gubay, The World's Richest People". Forbes. 2006-02-13. Retrieved 2016-01-06. 
  4. ^ Nine Welsh Kwik Save stores shut BBC News, 29 May 2007
  5. ^ a b c Tozer, James (2010-03-22). "Kwik Save tycoon gives away fortune to fulfil his promise to God". Retrieved 2016-01-06. 
  6. ^ "Jewish billionaires". Retrieved 2016-01-06. 
  7. ^ "Kwik Save Archive Shopping product reviews and price comparison". Retrieved 2016-01-06. 
  8. ^ [1] Archived 29 January 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ [2] Archived 25 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Supermarket History - Charlotte, North Carolina
  11. ^ a b Business guru Albert Gubay sells Total Fitness to L&G for €120m Irish Independent, 1 August 2004
  12. ^ [3] Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Health centre and pool in precinct plan This is Lancashire, 22 April 2000
  14. ^ a b Gubay-linked firm sued by builders Irish Independent, 8 December 1998
  15. ^ Gubay is top property magnate in Wales Archived from Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales) 3 November 2005
  16. ^ Roman Catholic Churches in the Isle of Man - The Online Isle of Man Portal
  17. ^ Archived from the original on 2 November 2006. Retrieved 30 May 2007.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ [4] Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  19. ^ Kwik Save tycoon gives up riches in pact with God Daily Telegraph, 21 March 2010
  20. ^ Papal knighthood for UK philanthropist - website CathNews, 1 February 2011
  21. ^ Albert Gubay 'overwhelmed' with Papal award - website BBC News, 23 February 2011
  22. ^ Pope gave personal consent for Albert Gubay honour - Isle of Man Nation Website, 24 February 2011
  23. ^ "Albert Gubay dies - Isle of Man Today". Retrieved 2016-01-06. 
  24. ^ "Entrepreneur Albert Gubay dies aged 87 | Isle of Man News | News". Manx Radio. Retrieved 2016-01-06. 

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