Bonanza as River Island fashion business family fund nears £1bn

Family behind River Island fashion business sees value of its investments rise, despite disruption caused to their shops by Covid lockdown

Rising: The family behind River Island has seen its fortune go up by £30million

The family behind the River Island fashion business has seen the value of its investments rise, despite disruption caused to their shops by the Covid lockdown. 

Accounts for the Lewis family’s company reveal the assets are worth £964million, a £30million increase on the prior year. 

Its interests include a luxury hotel in Florida, and a property division that manages and develops assets across Europe, the US, Caribbean and Thailand. The group also invests in private equity funds and takes stakes directly in private companies. 

The River Island retail chain is run as a separate business and not included in the value of the investments. 

The most recent documents for River Island show it plunged into a loss during the pandemic. 

Temporary shop closures as a result of Government restrictions had a ‘material impact’ on the business, bosses said. 

The family investment company, called L51N – a reference to the latitudinal position of River Island head office in West London – said it is optimistic about the future. 

But L51N only paid a dividend of £600,000 to its shareholders in the year to December 2021 – the same as the four previous years and far less than 2016’s £100million payout. 

Around 40 family members, including founder Bernard Lewis, 96, are in a trust which is a major beneficiary of the investments and dividends.