Cathie Paver, the oldest member of the Top 100 at 86, founded her York- based shoe business in 1971. Initially selling shoes in village halls and at house parties, Paver – known as ‘The Maggie Thatcher of the shoe trade’ – soon learned how to subdue any suppliers who were unwilling to deal with a female client.
Her shops became fixtures across the north of England, and in 2008 – with son Stuart now MD – Pavers entered the Indian market, setting up an R&D centre in Mumbai and opening its first concessions there. Pavers England (as it’s known in India) now has 32 stores, 120 outlets and accounts for 25% of group sales.
Pavers opened its 100th UK store late in 2013, is investing a further £10m in expanding in India and even has its own TV shopping channel, Paversshoes, featuring Paver’s daughter Debbie as a presenter. In 2012-13, Pavers’ profits hit a record £7m on sales of £65.6m.
Latest turnover: £66m
Five-year rise in turnover: 50%
No. of employees: 916
Five-year rise in employment: 26%