Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is still North-East’s richest

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BILLIONAIRE Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has added £550m to his fortune in the last year and remains the richest person in the North East.

According to the 25th annual Sunday Times Rich List - to be published this weekend - his personal fortune is £2.3bn and ranks him at number 31 in the national wealth list.

Ashley’s sportswear empire, Sports Direct, returned record profits of £125.6m for the six months to the end of October.

Meanwhile, the popularity of the fashionable jackets made at their South Shields factory has seen the wealth of the Barbour family, headed by Dame Margaret and daughter Helen Barbour, increase to £175m to put them among the 10 richest people in the region.

A new entrant in the region’s wealth league is discount entrepreneur Anthony Solomon, worth £100m, who established the Famous Brunswick Warehouse as a discount shoe chain, before selling for £23m, and its now an investor in The Works, the high-street cut price book and stationery chain.

Second in the North East rich list, with a personal fortune of £1,500m are property and hotel operators Poju and Anita Zabludowicz.

They rank 48th in the country.

Mark Fenwick and family, who runs the department store of the same name, are third in the regional list with £473m while Jonathan Ruffer’s financial empire earned £330 to rank fourth.

The Duke of Northumberland’s land and art portfolio was worth £325m and ranks him fifth in the regional list.

Dame Margaret and Helen Barbour have a personal fortune of £175m to rank 10th.