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Zuru owners top 2024 Rich List, beating out magnate Graeme Hart

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10 June 2024, 12:29 AM

Zuru owners top 2024 Rich List, beating out magnate Graeme HartNick Mowbray, pictured, owns Zuru Group along with his brother Mat. Photo: Supplied

The owners of toy company Zuru have been named the country's wealthiest people - knocking packaging, property and investment magnate Graeme Hart off the spot he has held for more than 20 years.

The Mowbray family, who started the company in their Cambridge garage, top NBR's 2024 Rich List, released on Monday.

Zuru is wholly owned by brothers Mat and Nick Mowbray, who the NBR has estimated are worth $20 billion.

Hart is valued at an estimated $12.1b.

Zuru Group was started more than 20 years ago and now spans three divisions - toys, consumer goods and construction - with more than 5000 staff across more than 30 locations worldwide.

In an interview with the NBR, published last week, 39-year-old Nick Mowbray said Zuru was on track to hit $3b revenue this year, with a plan to grow to $10b of annual turnover within the next five years.

The NBR said based on interviews with the Mowbrays and analysis against comparable listed company valuations, the publication had clearly undervalued the Mowbrays for several years.

Last year, it estimated their worth was $3.2b.

Graeme Hart had held the position of New Zealand's richest person for more than two decades. Photo: Fairfax Media via Getty Images

"Zuru describes itself as a robotics and automation company with a relentless focus on continuous improvement, which sees it automate at least one new process a week, resulting in some of the most efficient factories in the world," NBR List editor Hamish McNicol said.

"This has resulted in the group being highly profitable and debt free, and Zuru must now surely be considered one of New Zealand's most remarkable business successes."

The group is now working on a project to automate property construction, the NBR said.

About a year ago, Zuru purchased a 25-acre factory in China which would be its first full production factory for houses - the first of which should be complete by early next year.

"If Zuru manages to completely disrupt how a building is built, then the scale of what it can achieve is almost endless," McNicol said.

The rich get richer

The collective wealth of this year's NBR List has come in at $95.68b - well up on last year's $72.59b.

The top 10 are all billionaires with a collective net worth of more than $50b.

Baby boomers' wealth is set to be transferred to the next generation, with some 'Listers' considering investments on a 100-year horizon, the NBR said.

It analysed who was next in line to inherit the wealth, and what might they do with it - finding while some were giving it all away, others were establishing family offices and investment vehicles in the hopes the next generation would continue their legacy.

"This historic wealth transfer is likely to have multiple ramifications on jobs, real estate and the economy overall," McNicol said.