Phones 4 U billionaire founder John Caudwell vows to stop using heating
Phones4U magnate John Caudwell has vowed to switch off his heating this winter to give Vladimir Putin the biggest kick he can.
The billionaire businessman, 70, insists he will heat up just one room in his home despite having more than enough means to see through the cost of living crisis.
Caudwell says he is happy to feel the pinch on his Staffordshire estate, The Mirror reports.
He said: ‘I know we’re in a fuel crisis and everyone is worried but we should all be using energy less and I’m going to practise what I preach. I’m going to heat one room where we’ll live and 98% of the house will stay cold.
Mr Caudwell, pictured outside his £10million Staffordshire home, splits his time between the property and his Mayfair abode
Mr Caudwell, pictured in the property’s Great Hall, is among high-profile figures offering their homes to Ukrainian refugees
Caudwell says he had happy to dispense with his heating in order to land a blow to Vladimir Putin
John Caudwell, 67, at the home in London’s Mayfair with his partner Modesta Vzesniauskaite, 36, a Lithuanian Olympic cyclist
‘Putin’s war is being funded by the fuel industry and anything I can do to make him a few dollars worse off I will.’
Reflecting on his own working-class childhood in Stoke-on-Trent, he said: ‘We used to put warm clothes on. I’m not saying we should all go back to living like that but there are things we can do.’
Caudwell says that consumers can do their bit to hit the Russian regime and help prevent the slaughter of Ukrainian civilians.
Caudwell set up his mobile phones wholesales business in 1987, selling phones primarily to tradesmen – initially making a loss for the first two years of operation.
But gradually, the business gained momentum as the Caudwell Group, which included the network provider Singlepoint.
Caudwell sold Phones4u for £1.5bn in 2006 to private equity firms Providence Equity Partners and Doughty Hanson.
John Caudwell and his partner, former Olympian cyclist Modesta Vžesniauskaite, 38
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Caudwell and his partner Modesta Vžesniauskaite, 38, invited a Ukrainian woman and her son live in a separate two-bedroom home on the grounds of their Eccleshall estate.
Mr Caudwell, who slammed the UK’s government’s initial response to the invasion as ’embarrassing’, told his guests that his offer of free food and utilities would be there ‘for as long as they need it’.
In an interview at the time with Hello! magazine, former Olympian cyclist Ms Vzesniauskaite, who was born in Lithuania, shared memories of ‘fear and trauma’ from her childhood, and the Soviet Union’s attempts to occupy her country on Bloody Sunday in 1991.
‘I feel heartbroken for the people whose lives have been destroyed,’ said Mr Caudwell, who is offering up his detached two-bedroom Coach House in the grounds of his £10million Staffordshire mansion Broughton Hall.
‘Picture yourself in that situation… you’ve got no home, and the fear of death and being murdered on the street is constant. It’s beyond comprehension.’
Talking about their tenant, Caudwell said the woman’s husband had stayed behind in Ukraine to fight against Russian invaders.
‘They are building their own lives. But the first few months were very difficult. The mum was very emotional all the time and would just keep breaking down in tears,’ he added.
‘Sometimes it was because she feared for her husband back home in the forces and wondered if he was dead or alive. And other times she was overwhelmed with gratitude for our kindness.
‘We need to get more medical aid to Ukraine and help them with ambulances and supplies.’
Mr Caudwell’s drastic vow to hit out at the Russian tyrant comes as the National Grid warned ‘Blackout Britain’ faced a bleak winter with potential three-hour power cuts, should Russia choke off its gas supplies to Europe.
The warning prompted the energy giant to propose a new scheme to pay consumers to run their washing machines or charge their electric cars away from peak hours.
They would be the first planned blackouts in decades, should they go ahead, and power plants cannot get enough gas to keep the country running.
Reflecting on his own working-class childhood in Stoke-on-Trent, he said: ‘We used to put warm clothes on. I’m not saying we should all go back to living like that but there are things we can do’
But candle suppliers have revealed their stocks are running low due to higher manufacturing costs
System operators have warned that shortages of gas, which generated 40 per cent of UK electricity last year, could mean planned three-hour blackouts in some areas to protect supplies for heating homes and buildings.
Brits are facing a cost of living crisis as the Government pledged £150billion to keep energy bills capped at £2,500 this winter, while many businesses say they face extinction without further help.
It is not the first time that the prospect of blackouts has been raised by the energy giant. But this year’s warning carries far more urgency as Vladimir Putin keeps the pressure on gas supplies to Europe amid his faltering war in Ukraine.
Prime Minister Liz Truss had earlier urged European leaders at a summit in Prague to help ‘keep the lights on’ as the standoff with Russia sparks fears of shortages in the coming months.
The PM is calling on groups to agree that gas and electricity connectors between countries must be kept open this winter.
Individual households are also being encouraged to help avoid blackouts, ‘save money and back Britain’ by choosing to consume energy during off-peak times.
It follows a similar trial scheme run by Octopus Energy which saw customers change their habits and alter energy use in a two-hour off-peak window.
The new scheme, being rolled out in November, could see savings of £100, Ovo Energy has told customers.
However the National Grid has already warned of the need to balance the cost of the project with incentives for households, suggesting a rate of 52p per kWh could be applied.
Who is former Phones4U tycoon John Caudwell?
John Caudwell went from selling phones at boot fairs to netting more than £1billion for his huge-successful company
Birmingham-born John Caudwell, a father of five, abandoned his A-levels for an apprenticeship at the Michelin tyre plant in Stoke-on-Trent and ran a corner shop and a mail-order business before getting his big break with mobile phones.
Just over 30 years ago, he bought a job lot of handsets: it took him eight months to sell 26 big, clunky Motorolas from the boot of his car, but they fetched £1,500 each.
From there, he built Phones4u, named the UK’s fastest-growing company for two years in succession.
By 2003, the Caudwell Group employed more than 8,000 staff worldwide and was selling 26 phones every minute. At the height of its success, Caudwell employed 14,000 people.
In 2006, at the top of the credit boom, he sold most of his majority stake in his Caudwell Communications group, netting him more than £1.4 billion.
He cashed in again when Phones4u was sold six years ago, giving him a further £100 million.
Caudwell, his ex-wife Kate, former partner, Claire, and four of his children have all tested positive for Lyme disease which can seriously damage the nervous systems and vital organs.