Anders Holch Povlsen, Danish clothing retail billionaire and one of Scotland’s biggest landowners lost three of his four children in the Sri Lanka attacks on the 21st April.
Bestseller, the clothing group founded by Holch Povlsen’s parents, confirmed the deaths of three of the couple’s children who were amongs the victims killed at the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo.
The 46-year-old Holch Povlsen was on holiday in Sri Lanka with his wife and their children – one boy and three girls aged five to fifteen- when suicide bombers attacked churches and luxury hotels, killing more than 300 people.
Alma, the Holch Polvsen’s eldest child, posted a picture on Instagram of her brother and two sisters from behind, sitting by a swimming pool. And since the announcement of the tragedy, users of the site have left thousands of condolence messages in the comments section.
Protective of private life
The public knows little about Holch Povlsen’s life, apart from the fact that he is a close friend of Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim, and he’s a keen hunter who likes sports cars. The reclusive businessman has guarded his family’s privacy over the years. The Holch Povlsen family has never been photographed together.
“He is more protective of his private life than some members of the royal family,” says Soren Jakobsen, author of a book on Denmark’s industrial dynasties.
In 2003, a Dane mistaken for Anders Holch Povlsen was kidnapped in India. The kidnappers realised their error five days later and released the man. Several years before that, Holch Povlsen’s father, Troels Holch Povlsen, was harassed by a man who broke into the family’s estate. At the man’s home, police found a hideaway as well as handcuffs, flammable liquids, wigs and a book on poisonings.
Anders Holch Povlsen
Holch Povlsen, Denmark’s richest man according to Forbes magazine, has been a major shareholder in ASOS, with a 27 per cent stake in the online retail giant, and owner of Bestseller. Bestseller includes brands such as Vero Moda, Only and Jack & Jones.
Mr Povlsen also has significant stakes in online grocery store Nemlig and payments company Klarna.
Povlsen’s father, Troels, opened the family’s first clothes store in 1975. Other outlets soon followed. And Anders was only 27 when Troels made him the sole owner of Bestseller.
By 2007, it was so successful that supermodel Gisele Bundchen was hired to promote it.
Bestseller employs 15,000 people and boasts nearly 6,000 shops.
Povlsen owns 11 estates in the highlands and was announced as the country’s largest landowner last year when his portfolio outstripped that of the Duke of Buccleuch, who owns 217,000 acres. He has bought 11 Scottish estates, including Glen Feshie in the Cairngorms, and is understood to be eyeing up yet more.
Povlsen is part of a growing Viking invasion of Britain by Scandinavians buying substantial estates. They include H&M billionaire Stefan Persson, who has 10,000 acres of land in Wiltshire and Hampshire. Danish Lego heir Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen owns 69,845 acres in Ross shire, and Swedish Tetrapak heiresses Sigrid and Lisbet Rausing own nearly 90,000 acres of the Highlands.
Mr Polvsen is a passionate environmentalist and purchased his land with plans to restore the ecology. His ‘wild land’ approach is geared towards encouraging the natural flora, fauna and woodlands to thrive.
He had undertaken a ‘rewilding’ project to bring back endangered species to the country and said only last week that he hoped the conservation work would be continued by his children after his death.
He has created the Wildland company promoting conservation of the region. “We wish to restore our parts of the Highlands to their former magnificent natural state and repair the harm that man has inflicted on them,” he says on the Wildland web page.
He developed an affinity for Scotland after vacationing there, falling for the wide open wildnerness. He acquired his first estate in the Highlands in 2006.
Today, he owns an estimated 280,000 acres of Scotland. The Danish billionaire spends more than £70 million in land in Scotland in just over a decade. He purchased estates including Eriboll in Sutherland and Tulloch near Fort William.
In Denmark, Povlsen owns and resides at the old Constantinsborg Estate west of Aarhus, along with substantial farmland and forests.
Povlsen has bought land in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains to create a wilderness reserve for the surviving wolves, bears and lynx.
Povlsen himself keeps a low profile. Partial to single malt and locally brewed real ale, he is known to visit local pubs in Scotland but rarely says much about himself.
One family friend said: ‘They epitomise the Danish ethos of ‘Jantelov’, which translates as ‘Don’t think you are special’ and emphasises the collective rather than the individual.’
Another former senior employee, who did not want to be named, said: ‘Anders turned around to me a few years ago and said, ‘Look, I have a good life. I have everything I need and a nice watch that works. What else do I need?’
‘I remember that the watch was an inexpensive Citizen. He drove a VW Golf for years, but has upgraded to a Tesla electric car. He is very concerned about the environment, so they tick all his boxes.’
The former employee added: ‘Anders works 12-hour days so there is not much time for socialising. He hangs on to his old friends from his childhood in Brande. He knows they are genuine friends. Buying castles and estates is not about social climbing. In Scotland, he finds peace.’
Forbes magazine has estimated Mr Povlsen to be worth around £7.9 billion