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EDITIONS
Thursday, 14 November, 2002, 16:23 GMT
Who is Britain's greatest business leader?
Andrew Carnegie, Lord Weinstock and Jesse Boot
Who deserves top spot in the world of British business?
Charles Darwin, William Shakespeare, Oliver Cromwell - they are in the Top 10 of Great Britons selected by the BBC audience.

But what about the people who have made this country rich? Who are Britain's greatest business men and women? Send us your nominations!

Based on your suggestions we will draw up a shortlist, and then give you a chance to vote on who is the greatest British business leader of all times.

Here is the personal shortlist of BBC business editor Jeff Randall - although for reasons of impartiality he has restricted himself to past entrepreneurs and managers:

  • Andrew Carnegie, steel magnate and philanthropist
  • Jesse Boot, founder of Boots and generous contributor to local causes
  • Charles Rolls and Henry Royce
  • Simon Marks, who together with his brother-in-law created Marks and Spencer.
  • Arnold Weinstock, the man who turned GEC into a world leader
  • Siegmund Warburg, who transformed London's City.
But is the list complete? Are there worthier candidates, both today and in the past? And what should be the criteria - economic success, philanthropy, their lasting legacy?

A selection of your nominations

My nomination would be John Lewis as he created a sense of ownership for all who work there
Paul Mellors, England

I think Edward Stobart (son of Eddie) deserves to be up there with the best. He turned a couple of lorries in Cumbria into a 1000 trucks across the UK, and has always maintained strong morales - sizable charity donations, spotless trucks, polite and courteous drivers and has remained independent.
Sam, UK

I'd like to nominate William Morris, for one reason and one reason only - the Morris Minor is the best car ever built. I don't really care about his vast wealth and generous nature. It's the cars that count.
O. Tansey, Ireland

Lord Weinstock - focus on customer and cost delivered the first british company to break the billion pound profit barrier.
Quentin Sommerville, UK

William Morris (Lord Nuffield) is the most suitable candidate, for his various good deeds, he left loads of money to charity and founded the Nuffield College of Oxford after making a fortune from cars.
Munyaradzi Majonga, Zimbabwe

Richard Branson for his ability to succeed in areas while others are floundering. His competetiveness and vision is uncanny.
John, UK/USA

Ernest Hives, General Manager from 1936 and later Chairman of RR, until 1956, Hives drove RR through all the technical, financial and production hardships of Merlin production and was the visionary for the company's move into gas turbines. With this he alone created perhaps the last remaining manufacturing activity in which Britain, through RR, still leads the world today.
C.H. Wheeldon, UK

I believe you should look at either Wedgewood for his mass production insight or Abraham Darby for creating the industrial revolution on which this country's greatness was based......
Steve Smith, UK

Lord Nuffield came from a humble background, created his own industrial Empire and used his wealth to serve the public! He is still greatly admired in the UK and on the continent.
Johannes Lindner, Germany

How about Chris Evans who created the Ginger Group. A individual with less obvious merits than most and the abilty to annoy lots of people and he still succeeds!! This must constitute making the best use of ones resources.
chris clifton, UK

Lord Hanson, although not in quite the same mould as Arnold Weinstock, brought about substantial industrial reorganistion to businesses which were losing there way and unable to sustain themselves in inceasing globalisation of businesses and markets.
Norman Porter, UK

I would vote for William Morris for the best businessman Britain ever had. For once he built mini which is still a cool car to have, and a vast finantial empire, but first of all because of his donations for charity and an amazing idea to fund a new college in Oxford (and not for car engeneers either, but for social scientists!). I am voting for Lord Nuffield!!
Maria Sobolewska, Poland

Sir Henry Wellcome not only created a pharmaceutical business that has saved millions of lives over the years, a legacy in his will also created the worlds largest medical trust that has given billions (literally) to medical and biological research since his death.
Jon Smyth, UK

I would nominate Sir Christopher Gent, the man deservedly credited with turning a small British enterprise into one of the largest companies in history - Vodafone.
Mark Gillan, United Kingdom

Cecil Kimber - the creator of the original MG Car Co. Ltd., and the distinguished marque of MG sports cars which continues to this day.
Mr R. G. Rose, UK (currently in Canada)

Herbert Austin who built a massive manufacturing company from nothing. Prior to world war 2, he was given responsibilty by the government to drastically increase the production of aero engines, and played a pivotal part in the creation of the shadow factories.
Paul Ripley, UK.

I think that Reuben Singh is Britain's best business leader because he has helped more young people to handle usiness and develop their entrepreneurial creativity than any other person in the UK, even more so than Richard Branson.
Patrick Bailey-Philpott, Age 13, United Kingdom

Ernest (Lord) Hives : (1886 to 1965) Managing Director, Rolls Royce. After Henry Royce's death in 1933, he drove the company to tremendous achievements in aero-engine development and production. He was responsible in 1942 for RR's start in jet-engine development, laying the foundation for the future.Having left school at 12 years old, he started as an apprentice engineer and ended up as a giant of industry, a natural leader and wily political animal.
Nick Savage, UK

I nominate Sir Joseph Whitworth because he was an inventer who made commercial successes of his inventions. He did it in the UK and he changed the world as a result.
Roger Clark, UK

Andrew Carnegie a man who was the latter day eqivalent of Bill Gates in business accumen. Starting with nothing, building up a steel empire to become the world's richest man at the time. He then used this wealth to enrich opportunities for others, a legacy still benefiting the world 100 years later. He should have been top Btiton never mind top Business Briton.
Forbes Howie, Scotland

How about Joseph Rowntree - he was a great philanthropist who helped a lot of good causes and made some serious money in the process?!
Neel, UK

Herman Hauser is the man behind the UK's modern IT industry ... he founded Acorn Computers before going on to found ARM Holdings, which combines an innovative business model with a success that puts its chip designs in 90% of the world's mobile devices. Most recently, he has set up a VC firm (Amadeus Capital) that continues to invest in some of the UK's hottest technology start-ups.
Rich, UK

Brunel - He provided the fabric for GB's industrial growth
Nick Silvester, England

Edith Baxter, for showing the same pride in her soup that Victor Kiam showed in his electric razors
Graeme, Scotland

What about successive members of the Cadbury family? They are well known for both their business acumen and improving the welfare of their employees, having built the Bournville complex as a housing and education centre as well as a chocolate factory.
Simon, England

I nominate John Browne of BP, because he turned this great company around into the world leader it is today, from the mess that Robert Horton left it in. Browne also restructured BP along the way, making me redundant. Nevertheless I recognise his ability and wish there were more of his ilk.
Andrew Simmons, UK/Russia

Sir David Alliance rescued the British textile industry, and created over 100,000 jobs.
Max Kish, UK

Jesse Boot, founder of Boots and generous contributor to local causes is the man that can offer as much help to the people in need!
nigel wong, hong kong

Baron Armstrong - he was an entrepreneur, inventor and laid the foundations for Newcastle to become the city it has become. He utilised the wealth he had for the greater benefit of his fellow men by his philothropic works and his building works such as Bamburgh and Cragside.
John Larder, england

for total worldwide market penetration spreading the made in britain fame : JCB.....JC Bamford.
richard, singapore

The Rochdale Pioneers were Britain's greatest business leaders. They founded a business- The Co-op-that was based on honesty and integrity, rather than the fast buck. All these years later, it's still going strong!
Steve, Scotland

In view of the news that John Mayo is looking to suing Marconi, wouldn't a list of Britain's worst business leaders be more appropriate and easier?
Marc, UK

May I suggest Lord Nuffield (William Morris) for the millions he gave to education and the Nuffield Hospitals.
Helena Harrold, UK

I nominate Sir Stanley Kalms. From a small photographic shop to the Dixons group, eh hsas created a good investment for shareholders, given customers what they want.
W J Egerton, UK

There is one superstar who noone seems to know about: Thomas Brassey (1805-70). He was the greatest railway contractor of his age, built docks (eg Birkenhead, Victoria, Barrow, he personally was an employer of up to 100,000 men.
Andrew Shaw, UK

I would like to add to your list the likes of Joseph Rowntree, Cadbury and Sir Jeremiah Colman. These people cared abut their employees in an extraordinary way.
Nick Fletcher, London

What about Nathan Rothschild? Also Marcus Samuel, the founder of Shell, WH Smith, he of the railway bookstall, and William Lever of Unilever and Port Sunlight. It's not just about building a business, it's changing the way people think and behave that matters.
Stephen Aris

I would like to add Sir Thomas Lipton, grocer and entrepreneur.
S Neville, Scotland

Sir Cecil Rhodes - By all accounts, he was not a pleasant man, and many of his views would not be acceptable today even if they were not abnormal in his own time. However, his business skill and daring built the companies that today form De Beers and Anglo-American as well as others. In his will he left vast sums to improve education and enlightenment which today form the Rhodes Scholarship Programme, Rhodes University in South Africa (one of the centres of anti-Apartheid campaigning) and the English Speaking Union. An extraordinary man with extraordinary impact.
tim, UK

William Hesketh Lever. Founded Lever, now a part of Unilever. He also built the town of Port Sunlight to house his workers. Great enlightenmant from a great businessman.
Tom, Edinburgh, UK

Sir William George Armstrong was an extremely successful Victorian industrialist. He built one of the world's greatest armaments, shipbuilding and engineering businesses, based on Tyneside. He also contributed huge sums to education, medicine, scientific research organisations and charities.
Gordon Styles, United Kingdom

John Moores not only created Littlewoods Pools, but also Littlewoods department stores and a catalogue shopping business, but also turned Liverpool and Everton football clubs into world beaters.
He may never have bothered to move to London, and like Lord Weinstock may have seen his successors mess things up, but he surely merits a place in any shortlist.
Fraser Baldwin, UK

Sir Henry Wellcome and Thomas Beecham and more...
Dafydd Lewis, UK

Lord Weinstock was the greatest industrialist of the 20th Century. He made GEC into a world beater, and put British Industry back on the map. What a shame he died seeing his life-time's work ruined by one man in two years.
Charles Mann, UK

David Davies,for building railways in Wales,opening the Rhondda valleys and building Barry docks.
Ifan Bebb, Wales

Richard Branson - need I say any more
simon, UK

Sir Thomas Gresham. Chief financier to Elizabeth I. Eliminated Englands overseas Debt, helped found the Royal Exchange and was one of the first to realise the benefit of a strong Pound.
Tom Simpson, UK

1. Robert and George Stephenson. Steam locomotion and 5000 miles of railroads in the UK. 2. The Quakers- Finance and Industrial development.
Jack Hough, USA

Anita Roddick, for blowing convention and caution out of the window, and making cosmetics affordable, fun, non-gimmicky and "green".
Chris, England

Sir Henry Wellcome who in 1936 set up the wellcome trust. although not set up as business, it has had a huge impact in lacieng Britain at the forfront of medical science, the pharmaceutical industry and biological science.
Damien Bove, Engald

Adam Smith for his 'The Wealth of Ntaions' and its legacy.
Simon Paul, UK

Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin empire must surely feature in your shortlist? He is one of this country's greatest entrepreneurs and his innovative approach to business knows no boundaries.
Mary, England

Andrew Carnegie, a born Scot that is known the World over, providing local amenities and a better way of life for many people and still provides through his great wealth.
Andrew, Scotland

Surely it is the people of this country which have made it rich and not individual people. The individuals makes themselves rich through the work of others.
Dominic Conlon, UK

I nominate Sir John Harvey Jones. Excellent at the helm of ICI following his naval career, and a wonderful orator, presenter and hairstyle to boot!
Gerry Tominey, USA

Rolls-Royce, revolutionary engines!!
Brian Gibbs, Australia

The Wills family of Bristol ought to at least be mentioned, for the same reason that Jesse Boot has been. Admittedly a tobacco empire is less "acceptable" nowadays than a chain of chemists, but the Wills' were to Bristol University what Boot was to Nottingham University.
Russ Haines, UK

David Stirling. who did much to secure favourable regimes in the middle east in the 1960's and 70's and open up lucrative markets in them, especially for defence items
Richard Williams, UK

I want to nominate Charles Parsons, later to be Lord Armstong. His innovations and business accumen laid the foundations that pulled not only the North East but the whole of the UK into the 20th century
joe riddle, UK

Adam Smith was the great Scottish philosopher and economist best known for "The Wealth of Nations", his pioneering book on free trade and market economics. This is one name that MUST be on the short-list!
Richard Bretherton, UK

I nominate Sir Thomas Lipton - a great businessman and philanthropist with both high ethics and a flair for publicity which made him the Branson of his times (or rather Branson the Lipton of our own times).
Jonathan Cavanagh, UK

How about WH Smith himself?! No High Street is complete without one. He managed a business and a political career whilst maintaining high ethical standards as a Quaker.
Or how about John Lewis? A visionary, empowering his employees and creating the UK's most popular department store. He turned the normal business model on its head and made a unique system work.
Phillip Taylor, England

Richard Branson: globally known as a British success. His combination of good business sense and appreciation of public views make him brilliant.
Richard Day, England

Joseph Rowntree
JFH, UK


The definition of a 'Great Briton' for the purposes of the nominations is: anyone who was born in the British Isles, including Ireland; or anyone who lived in the British Isles, including Ireland, and who has played a significant part in the life of the British Isles.

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