Southampton University engineering graduate Martin Naughton (78) built up the world's biggest manufacturer of home and commercial heating appliances before becoming one of Ireland's leading philanthropists. Built up from the small village of Dunleer, Co Louth, Glen Dimplex makes most of the heaters and toasters in the world, through brands such as Morphy Richards, Stoves and Belling. Naughton handed over the role of president to Sean O'Driscoll in 2016, while son Fergal is CEO. Other family members, Neil and Fiona Naughton also work in the business.
Glen Dimplex is an unlimited company and does not have to reveal its finances. But Glen Electric, a UK subsidiary which is thought to account for close to half the business, saw sales fall 5pc to €850m in its 2016 accounts. Operating profits were also down at €41m before a donation of almost €21m was given to the Naughton Foundation. In the past two years, the firm has made acquisitions in the UK, US and Australia.
Naughton has significant interests outside of Glen Dimplex, including a stake in the five-star Merrion Hotel and the exclusive restaurant Patrick Guilbauds. He also cashed in some of his more mature property assets, offloading two office blocks in the IFSC for a combined €90m in recent years. Son Fergal has also invested in Irish property, including in Kenmare's Park Hotel.
Naughton, who lives on a 200-acre estate at Stackallen House, has also invested in a number of domestic Irish companies, ranging from wind energy to water-coolers and telecoms. He is also restoring a gate lodge property at Kylemore Abbey in Co Galway. He and his wife Carmel are generous supporters of various charitable interests and multi-million euro scholarship schemes, mainly through their Naughton Foundation.