Hugh Richard Louis Grosvenor became the His Grace The Duke of Westminster after his 64-year-old father Gerald passed away earlier this year.
DMZ takes a closer look at the new Duke, who is in line to inherit the family’s enormous £9billion Grosvenor property portfolio.
Known to his friends as ‘Hughie’, the Duke in training was schooled at the exclusive Ellesmere College before studying land management at Newcastle University. After an 18-month stint in the family business, he now works as an accounts manager for Bio-Bean, a company that makes biofuel from recycled ground coffee.
Hugh’s party boy antics hit the tabloid headlines in 2012 when he held an extravagant star-studded bash for 800 guests. Allegedly costing a cool £5 million, the shindig included VIPs who were entertained by comedian Michael McIntyre and pop duo Rizzle Kicks.
Hugh said, “the party was simply amazing…it is now the beginning of a new era in my life and I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead.” The party loving Duke is also firmly entrenched in the Royal set, becoming the youngest godfather to Prince George in 2013 as well as reportedly being a close personal friend of Princes William and Harry.
The sheer volume of real estate and wealth the new Duke is inheriting is mind-boggling.
Formed in 1677 the group has three separate arms: the property and fund management business; an industrial division comprising food and energy investments; and the family office, comprising an art collection that includes numerous Rembrandt’s. The property portfolio also contains four huge rural estates, the crown jewel being the stunningly beautiful Eaton Hall in Cheshire, a 10,000-acre plot that dates back to the 1440s.
The day-to-day running of the estate falls on the shoulders of ex-Etonian Mark Preston.
Now CEO, Preston has worked for the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor Estate since he graduated in 1989 and is credited with driving the expansion of the Estates effort overseas. The company now boasts huge swathes of property in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Washington and San Francisco in addition to UK cities outside London. Preston is keen to highlight the successful diversification of the property portfolio, stating “the rationale for our commitment to developing and co-ordinating an internationally diversified property group became even more evident in 2015…which was a year of divergence”.
What state is the Grosvenor Estate’s business in right now?
In a word, profitable. Last year the group posted a revenue profit (revenue incomes minus revenue expenses) of £83.3 million excluding the impact of property revaluation. Annual pre-tax profits came in at a healthy £527 million, down on 2014 numbers but still at a level where most CEO’s would be more than satisfied.
With an ever expanding global portfolio, solid management and consistently impressive profits it’s hard to see what Hugh, now the richest person in the world under 30, can do differently to further broaden Grosvenor’s reach. His penchant for sustainability and green energy could be one way to influence the 500-year legacy; the Estate has made progress but Hugh could take this a step further.
DMZ thinks a company the size of Grosvenor could easily partner with green industry leaders such as Tesla, who could advise them on how to fully integrate solar panels or solar glass into all future builds.
For a firm that apparently measures itself in ‘200-year strategic plans’, DealMakerz suggests focusing on a full scale integration of sustainability in new projects, whilst maintaining their successful business fundamentals. Neither are a bad place for Hughie to kick off the next 200 years.