47= CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON & FAMILY
Industry 2018: £60m 2017: £80m (41=)
Christopher Johnson’s Castledon business slipped into a £3m loss in 2016, although sales hit a record £87.5m. The loss was attributed to the effect of a strengthening dollar on the Southend Airport-based company’s profits. It remains in a strong position with nearly £43m net assets. The business was started by Christopher’s father Allan, who worked at the airport and noticed pilots were taking time off due to back and leg problems caused by uncomfortable sitting positions on long flights. He was inspired to design a seat with adjustable lumbar and leg support, and established IPE (Industrial Precision Equipment) to manufacture the seats for pilots, co-pilots, navigators and engineers in 1961. The company’s big break was in persuading Lufthansa, the German airline, to specify Ipeco seats in the mid-1970s, after which orders from Boeing began to roll in. We clip the value of Castledon (IPE’s parent) back to £50m. We add £10m to the Johnson family for other assets, past dividends and salaries.