Hartlepool entrepreneur given OBE
An entrepreneur who started in business when he was just 12 has been recognised by The Queen and awarded an OBE.
Businessman and philanthropist Chris Musgrave credits his late father Joe with instilling in him the business acumen that led to him being honoured recently by The Queen.
Chris’s remarkable journey from ordinary lad to serial entrepreneur began when he was just 12 years old selling meat in pubs and clubs in his home town of Hartlepool with his dad.
He soon proved to be a successful businessman and went on to employ thousands and create a run of businesses worth millions.
Entrepreneur Chris Musgrave, who has been awarded an OBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours today, said: “When I was told about the award I immediately thought about my late father Joe and my mother Mary. No-one could have had better parents and the OBE is as much for them as for me.
“When I started in business at the age of 12 - selling pre-packed meat at pubs and social clubs in Hartlepool – I could never have imagined being recognised in this way.
“Those early years were the ‘golden years’ for me I learned about the importance of hard work and recognising an opportunity.
“It’s been a 40-year journey with many ups and downs but I’ve enjoyed every minute and I wouldn’t change a thing.
“I feel very proud but am also humbled that so many people have helped me over the years and I’m grateful to all of them.”
Chris left Brierton Comprehensive school at the age of 16 with no academic qualifications and became a fruit and veg market trader, with stalls in most of the market towns in the North East.
Although Chris was always ‘his own boss’ he worked in partnership with his father who remained his guiding hand. Chris’s mum Mary was also key to his formative years.
Soon after launching his first venture business was booming and in three years the pair opened three fruit and veg shops in Hartlepool.
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At the age of 21 he diversified and opened ‘Blondes’ wine bar - regarded as a trailblazer within the leisure industry at that time – its sale three years later to a national brewery led to a pattern of investing in new ventures, moving on and reinvesting.
With a keen eye for opportunities Chris isn’t afraid to take calculated risks. He formed this company JCM, buying and selling shop equipment, and in six years went from employing six people to more than 250 people, with a turnover of over £10million.
On selling JCM in 1998 Chris bought a redundant business park which had no businesses and no employees. Wynyard Business Park was created and by 2015 was home to 60 companies, employing more than 2,500 people.
He had also purchased a large share of Discovery Business Park in Kent, the largest Business Park of this type in the UK.
Under Chris’s leadership Discovery Park was transformed from having three businesses to 104 and 103 employees to more than 2,200 employees.
He sold Wynyard Business Park to the Duke of Northumberland in 2015, and Discovery Park in 2016, allowing him to concentrate on building thousands of new homes in the Wynyard area, as well as other large housing sites across the UK.
Throughout his time he has never forgotten his roots and is a fierce supporter of the disadvantaged of the area.
Over the years he has donated thousands of his personal wealth to charitable causes – especially to the Alice House Hospice in Hartlepool allowing substantial improvements to the capacity and facilities of the hospice.
Until recently Chris kept his charitable and voluntary sector work under the radar, but changed tack to publicise how essential the work of charities is in the North East.
Over the past two years he has organised a number of large-scale events raising much needed cash for a number of charities.
For example the Alice House Hospice and Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation, received large donations and are likely to be beneficiaries in the future.
Last year Stockton Council recognised Chris’s contribution to the economy of the area by presenting him with a Borough of Stockton Council Award.