John Whittaker (businessman)

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John Whittaker
Born (1942-03-14) 14 March 1942 (age 76)[1][2]
Bury, Lancashire, England, UK
ResidenceBallasalla, Isle of Man
Years active1940s–present
Net worthIncrease £2.3 billion
(US$3.37 billion)
TitleChairman of the Peel Group

John Whittaker (born 14 March 1942) is a British businessman and property mogul with an estimated fortune of £2.3 billion placing him 31st in Sunday Times Rich List 2013.[3]

Whittaker is the Chairman of the Peel Group, a property investment enterprise that mainly invests in North West England.

Although publicity-shy, he has been named as one of the most influential business leaders for Greater Manchester and the North West by the Manchester Evening News[4] and was named the most influential northerner by Big Issue magazine in 2010 thanks to his large investments in North West England and wider afield in Northern England.[5]

Early life[edit]

Whittaker was born to John and May Whittaker in Bury, Lancashire in 1942. He was educated at Prior Park College, a Catholic boarding school in Bath, Somerset, and considered becoming a priest before deciding to join the family business, Peel Mills.[6]

The Peel Group[edit]

In the 1980s he fought a bitter battle to take over the Manchester Ship Canal Company, out of which the Trafford Centre emerged.

Whittaker sold the 1.5m sq ft Trafford Centre to Capital Shopping Centres (now Intu Properties) in January 2011. Under the terms of the deal, which valued the Manchester scheme at £1.6 billion, his company, Peel, took shares in CSC worth £636m and he joined its board as deputy chairman. It attracts more than 30m visitors a year, which Whittaker attributes in part to the flamboyant baroque decoration, including one of the world's biggest chandeliers. "It is the people's palace...the Dallas effect" he says. Whittaker who runs his empire from an office within the centre's giant dome, nearly became a Roman Catholic priest but instead followed his family into business. The Whittakers had been involved with textiles, quarrying and farming since the 1850s, though the young scion focused on property, including Peel textile mills, built in Bury to honour Sir Robert Peel. Peel like Whittaker was a native of the town. It embraces airports, ports, utilities and renewable energy and investment property. One big project currently underway is Ocean Gateway, a £50 billion housing and retail redevelopment on the Manchester Ship Canal and River Mersey.[7] Whittaker hopes the Manchester development will become a Chinese business hub. He accompanied the Prime Minister on his trade mission to Beijing in 2010.

In 2010, his wealth doubled from £1.01 billion to £2.07 billion,[8] mainly thanks to the £1.65 billion sale of the Trafford Centre.[8]

In 2011, Peel bid to increase its approximately 30% stake in the Pinewood Studios Group to 100% through a bid against fellow billionaire, Mohamed Al Fayed. After increasing the bid to £96.1 million ($160 million), it appeared the bid would be successful. The group is also behind MediaCityUK, a development in the northern English city of Salford, Greater Manchester, that will serve as the BBC’s new headquarters.[9]

Business reputation[edit]

Whittaker has been regarded as a publicity-shy businessman who rarely gives interviews.[6] In 2010 when Simon Property Group attempted to purchase the Trafford Centre, insiders saw Whittaker as "formidable opposition" and a "very astute, very clever and a very good businessman".[10] One such example of his astute business mind was convincing the BBC to reject three other sites across Manchester to move to MediaCityUK in Salford Quays. The presence of the BBC would then act as a magnet to attract indie production companies to Salford and the Peel Group would make money from the rent and lease agreements on the development.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Whittaker currently resides in the Isle of Man where he owns Billown Mansion.[9] He and his wife, Patricia, have five children Mark, James, Kate, John and Max.[12]

Whittaker donated £1m to Royal Manchester Children's Hospital. The donation was partly attributed to personal feelings for the cause.[6]


  1. ^ John Whittaker Profile, 2015 Billionaire Rank, John Whittaker Net Worth, Age
  2. ^ John Whittaker
  3. ^ "The Sunday Times Rich List 2013". Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  4. ^ "Who is our greatest captain of industry?". Manchester Evening News. 6 June 2006.
  5. ^ "Hot Property". 24 October 2010. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011.
  6. ^ a b c "Profile: John Whittaker". Scotsman. 29 March 2010.
  7. ^ Merrick, Rob, "Ocean Gateway: Green light for 4,500 homes" Archived 2 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Liverpool Daily Post, 17 July 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  8. ^ a b "Double your money: Peel tycoon John Whittaker surges up rich list". Manchester Evening News. 9 May 2011.
  9. ^ a b O'Connor, Clare, "Billionaires In Bidding War Over James Bond Film Studios", Forbes, 28 April 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  10. ^ Kollewe, Julia (11 January 2011). "Sale of Trafford Centre ends battle for control of CSC". The Guardian. London.
  11. ^ "How BBC's move to Salford will make tycoon richer". Daily Express. 25 July 2010.
  12. ^ "The man who built Peel Holdings". Manchester Evening News. 3 February 2005. Retrieved 13 October 2009.

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