Lord Alliance and family
Mail order, Textiles
Rank 2017
The dressing gown worn by Prince George when he met then president Barack Obama last April was from My 1st Years, the Northampton-based fashion firm that secured £5m of funding in January to expand into the American market. One of its backers is Alliance, 84, who knows a thing or two about fashion, having built the international textiles group Coats Viyella, now known as Coats. Born in Iran of Jewish faith, he arrived in Manchester in his late teens with only his uncle's address in his pocket. Under mail order group N Brown, his empire grew to include retailers such as Figleaves, Simply Be and High & Mighty. But it wasn't always easy: the Liberal Democrat peer wrote in his 2015 autobiography of his prolonged battle with depression, revealing that his secretary would sometimes find him "weeping uncontrollably" at his desk while working 14-hour days.
   After a £15m donation in 2015, Manchester University renamed its business faculty the Alliance Manchester Business School. He has stepped down as chairman of N Brown but his family stake has risen to £495m and there are £65m of other assets, including a large collection of Lowry paintings and the Anglo Eastern Trust property operation with £34m net assets.