John Caudwell

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John Caudwell
John David Caudwell

(1952-10-07) 7 October 1952 (age 67)
Birmingham, England
EducationBerry Hill High School, Stoke-on-Trent
Years active1973–present
Known forMobile phone business
Net worthSteady GB£1.576 billion (Sunday Times Rich List, 2019)
Increase US$2.7 billion (March 2020)[1]

John David Caudwell (born 7 October 1952) is a British billionaire businessman and philanthropist who co-founded the mobile phone retailer Phones 4u. He also invests in fashion, real estate and other industries, and chairs Caudwell Children, a children's charity,[2] and Caudwell LymeCo, promoting the health of Lyme disease sufferers in the UK.[3] He is known for being the UK's largest taxpayer,[4] but has taken steps to reduce his tax liability.[5]

According to the Sunday Times Rich List in 2019, Caudwell is worth £1.576 billion.[6]

On the Forbes 2016 list of the world's billionaires, he was ranked #722 with a net worth of US$2.4 billion.[7]

Early life[edit]

Caudwell was born in Birmingham but moved with his family as a baby to Stoke-on-Trent and raised in Wellesley Street in Shelton, Staffordshire, and with his brother Brian attended Shelton Church of England School,[8] and then Berry Hill High School. His father had a stroke when Caudwell was 14 and died four years later.

Caudwell abandoned his A-levels to become an apprentice at Michelin,[9] and worked for several years there as an engineering foreman while gaining a HNC in mechanical engineering. Whilst working at Michelin he also ran a corner shop and started a mail order business selling clothing to motorcyclists, both of which were successful.

Caudwell Group[edit]

In 1987 Caudwell and his brother Brian both registered Midland Mobile Phones as a mobile phone wholesaler, initially taking 26 Motorola mobiles at £1,350 each.[9] It took 8 months to sell these 26 phones to local plumbers, taxi drivers and television repairmen at a price of £2,000 each. The company made a loss every month for the first two years of operations.[8] The business became the Caudwell Group part of which was an independent mobile phone network service provider called Singlepoint and a high street mobile phone retail operation called Phones4U. In 2003 he sold Singlepoint to Vodafone for £405m (then $648m).[10] Caudwell completed the sale of the wider business on 26 September 2006, when it was revealed that the Caudwell Group had been sold for a £1.46 billion to private equity firms Providence Equity Partners and Doughty Hanson.[11]

Other projects[edit]

In 2012, Caudwell appeared on Sky One's The Angel.[12]

Caudwell is also the owner of the South African F1 Powerboat racing team Caudwell Racing which has competed in the championship since 2012. The team has made history by competing with revolutionary four-stroke engines compared to the traditional and widely used two-strokes.[13][14]

Charity interests[edit]

In 1999, Caudwell was appointed as the President of the North Staffordshire branch of the NSPCC, and became the regional representative for the Full Stop campaign. Of the appointment, he says: "I was initially approached by the NSPCC to sponsor a cricket match. As is my way I got stuck in, took the whole thing over and was determined to raise as much money as I could."[15]

Caudwell founded the charity Caudwell Children in 2000. It became a national charity in 2006, and as of 2016 Caudwell is the chairman of the board of trustees.[16] Of the charity, he said: "I wanted to make sure that every penny that was raised would be put to the best use and spent on the children that needed it. My family puts about £2 million a year towards Caudwell Children. In addition I put in a lot of my time and I do a lot of networking. [But] the truth is my fortune isn't enough to help all the children that need help."[15] The charity has proved controversial because it promotes unproven and dubious health practices and has aligned itself with antivaccinationists.[2] The National Autistic Society asked Caudwell's charity to remove claims from its website that it had the society's support.[2]

In October 2011, he made a "significant" six-figure donation to Middleport Pottery (one of the last working Victorian pot banks in Britain) in Stoke-on-Trent, through The Prince's Regeneration Trust.[17] In October 2012, Caudwell was one of three principal private donors for the London's Bomber Command Memorial Appeal.[18]

In February 2013, he became one of the first Britons to sign up for Bill Gates and Warren Buffetts' Giving Pledge, which calls on billionaires to commit at least half their wealth to charity during their lifetime.[19]

As of July 2013, Caudwell Children has raised £27 million since its inception in 2000. As a result of his charitable work and his financial success, he now plans to give away at least half his wealth when he dies.[20]

His key charitable pursuit is supporting Caudwell Children; however, he is also a significant and regular contributor to and supporter of a number of charitable causes including The Prince's Regeneration Trust, Marie Curie, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, ARK (Absolute Return for Kids), Great Ormond Street Hospital and The Carers Trust, amongst others.[21]

He still donates to the NSPCC, and undertakes regular 1,000-mile charity bike rides to raise funds for many children's charities. On one fundraising bike ride from Land's End to John o' Groats in 2012, he raised £58,021 for Caudwell Children.[22]

Caudwell has been awarded accolades for his philanthropic efforts. On 8 December 2012 at The Noble Gift Gala, he was presented with The Noble Gift Philanthropreneur Award by Hollywood actress Eva Longoria for his dedication to charity work.[23]


In April 2010, Caudwell donated £2,000 to Conservative MP Bill Cash's general election fund.[24]

In 2019, Caudwell was reported to have donated £500,000 to the Conservative Party ahead of the 2019 United Kingdom general election.[25] He also gave interviews stating that he and many other wealthy individuals would leave the UK if the Labour Party gained power.[26]

Personal life[edit]

Caudwell was married to Kate McFarlane for 25 years, ending in 2001, and they had three children.[9][27] He then had a relationship with violinist Jane Burgess, with whom he had a daughter.[9] He was then in a long-term relationship with Claire Johnson for 15 years, with whom he has a son.[9] They separated in 2014.[27]

In 2015, Caudwell claimed that 11 family members including himself, his ex-wife Kate McFarlane, their two daughters Rebekah and Rhiannon, and his son Rufus had been diagnosed with Lyme disease.[27][28]

His current partner is Lithuanian former cyclist Modesta Vžesniauskaitė.[29]


  1. ^ "Forbes profile: John Caudwell". Forbes. Retrieved 2 March 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Moody O (24 June 2016). "Caudwell Children autism charity 'a magnet for quack therapies'". The Times.
  3. ^ "CaudwellLymeCo". 12 May 2017. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  4. ^ "UK's biggest taxpayer, John Caudwell, on tax avoidance". BBC News. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  5. ^ Michael Gillard (24 July 2005). "Phones4U boss loses 13m tax fight". Retrieved 25 July 2005.
  6. ^ Times, The Sunday (12 May 2019). "Rich List 2019: profiles 53-100, featuring Mike Ashley and Bernie Ecclestone". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  7. ^ "The World's Billionaires (2016 ranking): #722 John Caudwell". Forbes. 1 March 2016. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  8. ^ a b "The John Caudwell Story". BBC Stoke & Staffordshire. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  9. ^ a b c d e Parkinson, Gary (21 January 2006). "A day in the life of John Caudwell: How to make your first £1bn: start planning at the age of eight". The Independent. London. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  10. ^ "Vodafone snaps up Singlepoint". BBC news website. 11 August 2003.
  11. ^ Julia Finch. "Caudwell sells up and sails away with £1.24bn | Business". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  12. ^ "The Angel". Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  13. ^ "South Africa's Caudwell Racing Brings 4-Stroke Technology To F1!". F1H2O. 25 February 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
  14. ^ "New engines for Formula 1 H20 powerboats". Motorboat & Yachting. 27 February 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
  15. ^ a b "John Caudwell: 'My fortune's not enough to help all the children...' | Stoke Sentinel". 25 May 2010. Archived from the original on 5 August 2013. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  16. ^ "Our history". Caudwell Children. Archived from the original on 17 February 2016. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  17. ^ "Tycoon John Caudwell makes 'six-figure' donation to secure Middleport Pottery". Stoke Sentinel. 26 October 2011. Archived from the original on 29 October 2012. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  18. ^ "Bomber Command Memorial: Government pledge over shortfall". BBC News. 8 October 2012.
  19. ^ "Mobile Phone Billionaire Dials in for Gates-Buffet Giving Pledge". Forbes. 19 February 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  20. ^ Duncan, Hugo (10 July 2013). "CITY INTERVIEW: John Caudwell set to pedal back from Europe". This is Money. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  21. ^ "". Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  22. ^ "John Caudwell is fundraising for Caudwell Children". 14 June 2012. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  23. ^ "電話エッチ掲示板【】-人気おすすめ簡単テレセ案内". 20 June 2014. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  24. ^ "". 9 April 2010. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  25. ^ "BBC News - General election 2019: Surge in Tory donations before polling day". 23 December 2019. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  26. ^ correspondent, Rupert Neate Wealth (24 April 2019). "Phones4u founder vows to leave UK to avoid higher taxes" – via
  27. ^ a b c Jamieson, Sophie (22 September 2015). "Phones4U billionaire John Caudwell 'devastated' after whole family diagnosed with Lyme disease". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  28. ^ Ward, Victoria (13 December 2015). "Phones4U billionaire John Caudwell says 11 family members now diagnosed with Lyme disease". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  29. ^ Retter, Emily (4 February 2020). "Inside Phones4u tycoon's £250million mansion - Britain's most expensive home". mirror.