Dame Irene Hays makes debut on Sunday Times Rich List

Hays Travel owner Dame Irene Hays has made her debut on the Sunday Times Rich List, thanks to strong profits at the high street agency.

She makes it into the top 350, appearing at equal-324th place, with £400 million. She is highlighted among other new entrants such as Octopus Energy founder Greg Jackson, Twinkl founders Jon and Susie Seaton, and Euan Blair – the son of former prime minister Tony Blair.

Her entry reads: “A former civil servant, Hays (70) and her late husband John saved more than 1,000 jobs when the pair bought Thomas Cook’s travel agencies in 2019. Her Hays Travel group tripled profits to £51.5m last year, securing her a place on this year’s list.”

Also in equal 324th place, among others, is Sir Michael Gooley (£400m) founder of Trailfinders.

The highest placed travel figure is Barnaby and Merlin Swire and family, in sixth position with a fortune of £17.2 billion.

Kent-based Barnaby Swire is chairman of his family’s conglomerate, best known for its large stake in Cathay Pacific and extensive holdings in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland.

In 74th place is Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson and family (£2.4 billion).

The Sunday Times Rich List noted the serial entrepreneur has lost roughly half of his personal wealth over the past two years.

Philip Meeson (£718m) is in 232nd place, with his listing saying: “The former RAF pilot turned a low-profile cargo carrier into the package holiday giant Jet2. He retired last year.”

Topping the list is investor Gopi Hinduja and his family with a fortune of £37.196 billion. He is pictured in the magazine at the opening in September of his Raffles hotel in the Old War Office in London.

The list also includes King Charles, the Beckhams, Elton John, Adele and JK Rowling.

Other travel figures on the list include:

83 Jasminder Singh and family £2bn
Hotelier

95 Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and family £1.788bn
EasyJet founder

98 Peter Harris and family £1.74bn
Owner of Butlin’s and a private aviation outfit

108 Surinder Arora and family £1.556bn
Hotelier

134 Raj, Tony and Harpal Matharu and family £1.264bn
Hoteliers

205 Sir Roger and Peter Se Haan £825m
Sons of Saga founder Sidney De Haan

209 Peter Green and family £810m
Hotelier

247 Tim and Kit Kemp £648m
Hoteliers

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