Eddie Healey's incredible life - from Hull corner shop to partying with Girls Aloud

On Friday, it was announced that the billionaire Healey family remain the region's richest people with a fortune reported to be £1.501bn.

According to The Sunday Times Rich List 2024, the Healeys are officially the wealthiest family in the Yorkshire and Humber region.

The life of the late Eddie Healey, who died in 2021, is a classic rags to riches tale, rising from humble beginnings in Hull to eventually amass a billion-pound empire.


Eddie was a permanent fixture of the Sunday Times Rich List, alongside his brother Malcolm, for years.

But relatively little is known about long-time Kirk Ella resident Eddie who shunned the limelight despite a web of business interests, powerful contacts and generous charitable donations.

We take a look back at his incredible life, from humble corner shop beginnings to building Meadowhall Shopping Centre, partying with Girls Aloud and a terrifying masked robbery at his home.

Humble beginnings

Eddie and his wife Carol lived at Westella Hall, Kirk Ella, with Eddie's most recent business interest being Blue Energy, a wind and solar power company which is now run by his son Mark Healey.

The story of the Healey family is made all the more fascinating by their commitment to shunning publicity despite being among the wealthiest people in Britain and generous charitable patrons.

It all began at a humble corner shop in long-ago demolished Parrott Street in west Hull.

The family’s fortunes changed in the 1930s, when Stanley Healey, a painter and decorator, traded in his brushes and overalls to set-up a corner shop business selling painting and decorating supplies.

His simple yet shrewd idea went on to spawn a chain of superstores, which helped fuel the country’s DIY obsession.

Eddie Healey made his fortune in the family's in DIY stores and property investment
Eddie Healey made his fortune in the family's in DIY stores and property investment -Credit:Hull live

By the early 1970s Mr Healey’s sons Edwin, better known as Eddie, and Malcolm were the driving force behind Status Discount, which went on to become Status DIY.

Records show Eddie was chairman and Malcolm was managing director of 41 UK stores. In 1972, the firm floated on the stock market. In 1976, Malcolm, determined to raise standards of fitted kitchens, set up Humber Kitchens.

In 1980, Status was merged with MFI, netting the family £30m, which was split several ways including some for third brother John, who now lives in Portugal.

'Money was their benchmark, but it wasn't everything'

A year later, Malcolm bought Hygena Kitchens and, in 1987, sold it and Humber Kitchens to MFI for £200m.

Turning himself into a tax exile, he crossed the Atlantic where he set-up in Ohio, becoming the biggest kitchen manufacturer, through Mills Pride, in the United States. He later sold that firm for £800m.

Stanley Healey died at Hull Royal Infirmary in January 1983, aged 75.

Stanley Healey, father of Malcolm and Eddie, at the opening of Status Direct
Stanley Healey, father of Malcolm and Eddie, at the opening of Status Direct -Credit:Hull live

By this time Eddie was beginning to branch out and invest in property where he would enjoy enormous successes.

One friend of the family said: "Malcolm and Eddie had a determination to succeed. Money was their benchmark, but it wasn’t everything. More than anything they were driven by a need to achieve."

“They shared the work ethic of their father and hard work paid dividends. They worked hard but they knew how to spend their money,” another friend remarked.

Philip Beresford, who previously compiled the Sunday Times rich list, said of the brothers: “The Healeys are the perfect example of two brothers who both went their separate ways in business but were both very successful.

“Not many brothers have done that. I don’t know if it is a bit of sibling rivalry, but it is pretty good going.”

Eddie began setting up his shopping centre Retail World in Rotherham, but his £100m development hit problems when anchor chain Marks and Spencer pulled out.


Meanwhile, fellow Yorkshireman Paul Sykes was struggling to raise the capital for his shopping mall project in Sheffield.

The two decided to join forces and spotted some derelict land on the outskirts of Sheffield which they would transform into what has become one of Britain's most lucrative out-of-town shopping centres – Meadowhall.

While building work for Meadowhall was underway, the Hillsborough Disaster occurred. Some of the building workers had been in the ground when the tragedy that led to the deaths of 97 people happened. Eddie Healey listened to their stories and had an idea.

Meadowhall was built by Eddie Healey
Meadowhall was built by Eddie Healey -Credit:Retail Gazette

Speaking in a rare interview to the Telegraph and Argus, Eddie had expressed a desire to help the community of Liverpool after the disaster. He told them: "One of my failures.

"I told Liverpool Council I wanted to build a Mersey Stadium, an 80,000-seater ground for both Liverpool and Everton. The council offered me a 100-acre site.

"Then I went to Liverpool and Everton and offered them an £80m stadium, providing we could sell 7,000 executive seats at £1,000 for Liverpool and £500 for Everton. Both clubs refused."

In February 1990, it was announced that Eddie's Stadium Group had sold the Parkgate Retail Park in Rotherham for £260m and bought the Newport Retail Park in South Wales for £60m.

He then went on to net more £420m from the sale of his 60 per cent stake in Meadowhall to British Land.

Tied up and robbed

Despite their wealth and high-profile dealings, business acquaintances, aware of the Healeys' desire to stay out of the limelight, continued to say little. Staff, including their official spokesperson, are well known for refusing to talk about them.

Eddie married his wife Carol in 1966. One friend said: “Family values are important to Eddie. He values marriage and his children above everything.”

Eddie at Royal Ascot in 2005
Eddie at Royal Ascot in 2005 -Credit:Hull live

One of the few times Eddie hit the headlines was in 1995 after a masked gang broke into his home in the suburbs of Hull.

They tied up him, his wife Carol and their two sons, Tim and James, before escaping with an undisclosed amount of cash and jewellery. One of the sons was punched in the face but was not seriously injured.

As a result of the raid, jittery security guards were known to try to move on people innocently queuing at the bus stop outside the house.

It is well known that Eddie was a generous and committed patron to multiple charities through the year but he rarely made any such donations public.

Girls Aloud fan

He also had a penchant for throwing extraordinary celebrations.

In 1988, he paid £100,000 to fly chart-topping US pop star Belinda Carlisle to England and hired comic actor Rowan Atkinson and radio DJ Dave Lee Travis for his daughter's 21st birthday.

Eddie Healey paid £125,000 for a 45-minute set from Girls Aloud for his 70th birthday
Eddie Healey paid £125,000 for a 45-minute set from Girls Aloud for his 70th birthday -Credit:Jonathan Short/Invision/AP/PA Photos

For his 70th birthday party at the Dorchester Hotel in London, Eddie Healey spent £475,000, including £125,000 for a 45-minute set from Girls Aloud, and hired the comedians Russ Abbot and Bobby Davro.

He laid on a similar bash for Carol's 50th birthday where guests were entertained by all-girl pop group Eternal and comedian Freddie Starr.

Eddie passed away on August 21, 2021, at the age of 83.