Yorkshire retail entrepreneur builds up £250m stake in M&S

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YORKSHIRE-born entrepreneur Bill Adderley, the founder of the homeware chain Dunelm, has built up a stake in Marks & Spencer estimated to be worth nearly £250m.

Mr Adderley, who was born in Leeds, bought the shares over the last 18 months. The disclosure came about because of stock market rules which means that shareholders who own more than three per cent of a company must be made public.

Retail analyst Nick Bubb, a member of the Retail Think Tank, said: “There was much excitement when Marks & Spencer announced that a Mr William Adderley had amassed a three per cent stake in the company. It was natural to assume that this was the former CEO of Dunelm, Will Adderley, and that he was taking a big punt with his personal fortune on the M&S recovery.

“Enthusiasm for the story died a little, when M&S revealed to inquirers that the wealthy Adderley in question is actually Will’s father, Bill, who founded the Dunelm business and that the stake has been around for some time, with a small recent purchase tipping it over the three per cent threshold. The last 18 months actually haven’t been a bad time to have a three per cent stake in Marks & Spencer, as general enthusiasm for the sector has prevailed over the indifferent performance of the business, and Bill Adderley has certainly done better by punting in M&S than keeping his money in the bank. Time will tell whether now is a good time to be selling rather than buying M&S.”

A spokesman for Dunelm confirmed that the Adderley family hold 54.8 per cent of Dunelm shares. Bill Adderley has a stake of 19.4 per cent, and is the firm’s life president. The family collectively are worth £1.1bn, according to the 2013 Sunday Times Rich List. The spokesman declined to comment on Bill Adderley’s investment in M&S.

Professor Chris Cowton, Dean of the Business School at Huddersfield University, said that Mr Adderley’s decision to buy more M&S shares was a hard move to interpret.

Mr Cowton highlighted the fact that Mr Adderley had started his career at Woolworths, another “icon of the high street”, so he seemed to be returning to his roots.

Mr Adderley, from Middleton, left school with four O levels and went on to train as a manager at a Woolworths store on Briggate, Leeds.