Britain's Top 100 Entrepreneurs 2014: No. 19= - Jason Bannister, Oak Furniture Land

The furniture retail entrepreneur is worth £70m.

by Philip Beresford

Jason Bannister started his working life as a furniture salesman in his hometown of Burnley, rose through the ranks to become a regional manager, and was taken on by a consumer credit company who were impressed by the amount of furniture he sold on finance deals. One day, feeling disillusioned about working for someone else, he saw an ad for Mexican pine furniture available from a wholesaler. He had recently remortgaged his house to build an extension. Instead, he bought a container of furniture for £10,000. He made a huge profit when he sold it on ebay and continued selling furniture on ebay.

At the end of 2005, he left his job after trying to manage his eBay furniture empire around working a 10–hour day for his employer. By the end of 2006, the company was making £2.7m of sales a year on eBay. He then set up a separate website for Oak Furniture Land and when it went live on Boxing Day 2006, "it did the same turnover as the eBay business. We doubled overnight". Bannister owns all of the Swindon-based operation.

Age: 43
Activity: Furniture retail
Wealth: £70m
Latest turnover: £145m
Five-year rise in turnover: 753%
No. of employees: 616
Five-year rise in employment: 793%
Score: 89

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