Yorkshire business stalwart Sir Bob Murray tells all in new autobiography

Veteran Yorkshire businessman and former Sunderland AFC chairman, Sir Bob Murray, has opened up about his event-packed life in an autobiography due to be published this month.

His book, titled “I’d do it all again” takes readers from the streets of 1950s steel-making town Consett, where he left school with just one ‘O’ level, took his first steps on the career ladder to become an accountant, then risked it all to start his own kitchen and bathroom business in Yorkshire – Spring Ram.

Sir Bob first moved to Yorkshire in 1968 when he was 22. Today he is chairman of Leeds-based Sterling Capitol, which develops industrial, office, leisure and retail properties and chairman of Omega Kitchens, which is based in Thorne, near Doncaster.

He has also been chancellor of Leeds Beckett University for more than 10 years.

He told TheBusinessDesk.com his modest background had given him the hunger to succeed in life, adding he had great affection for Yorkshire and Leeds as an “adopted” Yorkshireman.

Sir Bob said he believed Leeds has massive potential but badly needs expansions and improvements to its airport and to Leeds United’s Elland Road stadium.

“It needs an international airport which is in keeping with the city – it’s a no-brainer,” he said. “The stadium is tired and antiquated with a capacity of just 35,000 when it should be 60,000.”

Commenting on Omega Kitchens, which he co-founded in 1992, he said: “I am extremely proud of the success we have achieved at Omega.

“The 400-strong workforce there is inspirational and the loyalty and selflessness they showed to the company during the challenging period of Covid was exceptional. Their commitment to Omega will ensure the company’s future is bright.”

Shortly before the pandemic, Omega unveiled a major extension to its factory, which was opened by Sophie, then Duchess of Wessex.

Turning to Sterling Capitol, which he also founded in 1992, Sir Bob noted the business had secured three major planning permissions this year, which he said vindicates its collaborative, non-combative approach in the face of a challenging planning system.

These consents include an 100 acre extension to Capitol Park Leeds by junction 28 of the M62, which will create 2,000 jobs.

In addition, the business gained permission for another 527,000 sq ft of space at CP Goole, along with 105,000 sq ft and 84,000 sq ft for two units at CP Barnsley.

Reflecting on his chancellorship of Leeds Beckett University, Sir Bob added his experience as a directionless young man with few qualifications had taught him the importance of education as a pathway to prosperity.

“Leeds Beckett has 30,000 students and staff and it’s doing well on every front,” he said. “It’s a vibrant, vocational university which is a great asset to the city.”

Despite his entrepreneurial success in Yorkshire, Sir Bob is still best known as the former chairman of Sunderland AFC and the visionary behind the club’s Stadium of Light, Academy and Beacon of Light – the latter is a sports, community and education facility in Sunderland which opened in 2018.

100% of proceeds from sales of Sir Bob’s autobiography will go to the Foundation of Light, Sunderland AFC’s official charity, supporting its “Heart on Your Sleeve” campaign, which aims to bring supporters together to live happier and healthier lives.

Foundation of Light works with up to 20,000 young people and families every year, encouraging parents and grandparents to stay both physically and mentally active to inspire the next generation to do the same.

Former BBC Sport editor and producer Lance Hardy started writing “I’d Do It All Again” with Sir Bob in 2019. But the book was completed with the help of his editor and friend Ian Preece after Lance died in August 2021.

The book will be sold online at www.sirbobmurraybook.com and is available to buy in-person from 12 October at the Beacon of Light and Sunderland AFC stores.